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Friday, September 9, 2011
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Silver lining in clouds

Dhaka, Delhi pin hope on joint statement

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on Wednesday issued a 65-point statement following their summit which underscored taking forward the Framework Agreement and speeding up various initiatives for transit.

It also promised expediting an agreement on water sharing of Teesta and Feni rivers on a 'fair and equitable basis'.

The two premiers also agreed to do away with all barriers, including tariff and para-tariff, to boost trade.

The important points of the statements are as below:

17. Both sides decided to establish a Joint Commission led by the Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs to jointly coordinate and oversee implementation of initiatives as well as to explore newer avenues for cooperation, including progress of activities under the Framework Agreement.

18. The two Prime Ministers welcomed that there has been progress on the principles and modalities of interim agreements on sharing of waters of Teesta and Feni Rivers on fair and equitable basis. They directed the concerned officials to work towards concluding the agreements at the earliest.

21. The Prime Minister of India reiterated the assurance that India would not take steps on the Tipaimukh project that would adversely impact Bangladesh.

22. The Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation between the two countries on security related issues and reaffirmed their unequivocal and uncompromising position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including insurgency. They reiterated the assurance that their respective territories would not be allowed for any activity inimical to the other and by any quarter.

23. They noted with satisfaction the signing of the Coordinated Border Management Plan during the visit of the Home Minister of India to Bangladesh in July 2011. They expressed confidence that it would enhance cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries, and enable them to manage the identified vulnerable areas with a view to preventing criminal activities, illegal movement, acts of violence and loss of lives along the border areas. The Prime Ministers directed the concerned agencies to implement the Plan immediately. They welcomed the decision to henceforth hold annual consultations at the level of Home Ministers.

24. The two Prime Ministers underscored the need to conclude an Extradition Treaty between the two countries expeditiously to complete the legal framework for bilateral security cooperation while expressing satisfaction that the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Agreement on Combating International Terrorism, Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking, signed in January 2010, were now in force following their ratification.

29. Recognizing the need to address factors including non tariff and para tariff barriers and port restrictions that hamper the natural growth of bilateral trade, the Prime Ministers directed concerned officials to identify and remove all barriers to unfettered bilateral trade.

30. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the opening of Banglabandha-Fulbari Land Port for bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India. They also expressed satisfaction at the Indian initiative to develop seven Integrated Check Posts (ICPs), and noted that this would facilitate trade between the two countries. They directed the concerned officials to hold the meetings of the Sub-Group on Infrastructure so that necessary infrastructure could be developed at the identified Land Ports / Land Custom Stations (LCS) on both sides expeditiously.

32. Welcoming the exchange of Instruments of Ratification of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, the two Prime Ministers reiterated their call for increasing investments including joint ventures in each other's country. They underscored the role of the private sector as very important in bringing qualitative and quantitative change in the development process. The Indian Prime Minister appreciated the announcement of the Bangladesh Prime Minister regarding the establishment of a Special Economic Zone for Indian investments.

33. Both sides agreed to examine the establishment of new land ports / LCS / immigration points to facilitate trade and movement of people.

36. The Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the operationalisation of Ashuganj and Silghat as additional Ports of Call under the bilateral Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol. He also expressed his appreciation for the successful commencement of trial run of the bulk cargo for Tripura using multi-modal facilities through Ashuganj port. It was agreed that the construction of an Inland Container Terminal at Ashuganj would be expedited and pending that, the port could be used for movement of bulk cargo immediately as far as practicable.

37. Both sides agreed to expedite works for enabling night navigation facilities on the Protocol routes. They agreed to allow movement of containerized cargo by rail and water and to work towards its early operationlisation.

38. Both the Prime Ministers directed that necessary steps be taken to expedite construction of a bridge over river Feni as per the alignment already agreed between the two sides.

39. The Prime Ministers directed the concerned officials that the MoU regarding development of railway infrastructure at the border point between Agartala and Akhaura should be concluded and the execution of rail line commenced at the earliest.

40. Bangladesh Prime Minister expressed her appreciation to the Indian Prime Minister for amendment of the MoU between the Bangladesh and Indian Railways allowing Rohanpur-Singabad as an additional route for both bulk and container cargo for Nepalese rail transit traffic. Bangladesh side also appreciated the assistance from India for the movement of fertilizers from Bangladesh to Nepal by rail route. They also agreed to re-establish rail connections between Chilahati-Haldibari and Kulaura-Mahishashan in the spirit of encouraging revival of old linkages and transport routes between the two countries.

41. The Prime Ministers directed that necessary formalities for the use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports for movement of goods to and from India through water, rail and road should be completed urgently.

44. The two Prime Ministers urged expeditious conclusion of Power Purchase Agreement between BPDB and NTPC for purchase of 250MW power from India by Bangladesh. It was agreed that Bangladesh would procure the additional 250MW of power from the open market in India utilizing the full capacity of the power transmission line being established through inter-grid connectivity at Bheramara and Behrampur.

45. The two Prime Ministers noted that BPDB and NTPC were working towards concluding a Joint Venture Agreement for setting up of 1320MW coal based power plant in Bagerhat. They directed the concerned officials to complete all formalities for operationalising the project expeditiously. They also directed the concerned officials to undertake necessary steps for conducting feasibility reports for the setting up of a similar 1320MW coal based power plant at a suitable location in Chittagong.

48. Recognizing the urgent need of trained doctors and specialists in the field of healthcare in Bangladesh, the two Prime Ministers agreed to set up a programme for training of Bangladesh doctors in premier Indian medical institutes.

49. Bangladesh Prime Minister appreciated the concurrence of the Government of India to the opening of a Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Mumbai. In addition, both sides agreed to consider further strengthening diplomatic and consular presence in each other's countries.

55. Recognizing the urgency of protecting and conserving the fragile ecosystem of Sundarban, the world's largest mangrove forest, the two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the signing of the MoU on Conservation of the Sundarban and a Protocol on the Conservation of the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sundarban. They expressed confidence that the combined efforts of the two sides would lead to the sustenance and preservation of this common heritage.

60. Both Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of an effective multilateral system, centred on a strong United Nations, as a key factor in tackling global challenges. In this context, they also recognized the need to pursue the reform of the main UN bodies, including the Security Council. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh reiterated her country's support for India's candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council. Both sides noted with satisfaction contributions of both countries to UN peacekeeping operations.

65. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh extended an invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to pay a visit to India. The invitation was accepted and it was agreed that the dates of the visit would be finalised through diplomatic channels.

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It seems that we need to establish a powerful and experienced bureaucratic team with equally good political oversight to implement all agreement following a priority and phased plan of work. The cooperation of Indian side is also important and should be extended. We are definitely frustrated the way the Teesta water sharing treaty has been handled despite being an important bilateral issue, but expect much more transparent and quick resolution of the unfinished jobs to keep the total face of the MOU operational and reduce the political situation inside and outside two borders.

: Faqrul

Are these points or the whole running commentary? Funny!

: Rc

 

 


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