Bangladesh, for the first time, has agreed with India for early completion of fencing along the Indo-Bangla border.
“They [Bangladesh and India] have also agreed on the need for early completion of fencing of the remaining vulnerable patches along the border,” said a joint statement after foreign minister level talks between the two countries in New Delhi yesterday.
Fencing between Bangladesh and India border, which is about 4,100 kilometres long, is the largest in the world. India’s parliament approved construction of the border fence in 1986 and the construction began in 1989. Since 2000, Indian troops shot and killed nearly 1,000 people along the border.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Thursday went to New Delhi along with a high-profile delegation comprising seven secretaries at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and had a series of meetings with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers.
Mahmood appreciated the measures taken by India to bring down the number of loss of lives at the border. “Both sides agreed that the number should come down to zero,” the statement said.
About the Land Boundary Agreement, the minister noted that the ratification process following the signing of the protocol to the Land Boundary Agreement 1974 was underway.
Bangladesh and India signed the LBA in 1974 and Dhaka ratified it the same year, but New Delhi is yet to do so.
Sushma expressed India’s appreciation for the cooperation extended by Bangladesh in security related matters, and welcomed Bangladesh’s assurance that its soil would not be allowed to be used for terrorism against any country, particularly India.
Mahmood before his departure for New Delhi told reporters that he would seek an assurance from India that its soil would not be used against Bangladesh. But such an issue was not included in the 36-point joint statement.
The issue got prominence when Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said an Indian politician was accused of funding Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami to create instability in Bangladesh.
About Teesta water sharing agreement, both the ministers reiterated their commitment to finalisation of the interim agreement for sharing of the waters of the Teesta and Feni rivers.
Bangladesh and India were scheduled to sign Teesta agreement in 2011, but it was not possible due to strong opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Indian side reiterated its earlier commitment that it would not take any unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of the proposed river Interlinking project which might adversely affect Bangladesh.
“The two sides also agreed on the expeditious holding of the 3rd meeting of the subgroup of JRC on Tipaimukh hydroelectric project and further exchange of data of the ongoing study,” the statement said.
The two sides agreed on the need to promote balanced bilateral trade and address para-tariff and non-tariff barriers.
“The Bangladesh side handed over a list of barriers to trade being faced by Bangladesh to India.”
India welcomed the decision of Bangladesh to allocate land for a special economic zone for India and extend necessary cooperation to interested Indian entrepreneurs to invest in it, the statement said.
“The two sides looked forward to visits of the president of Bangladesh to India, the prime minister of Bangladesh to India and the prime minister of India to Bangladesh,” the statement said.
They agreed that in order to maintain the momentum of relations, it was necessary for senior officials to meet regularly.
“It was decided that bilateral meetings of the power, commerce and shipping secretaries would be held at an early date,” the statement said.