India 'positive' on rail transit to Nepal | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 14, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 14, 2009

India 'positive' on rail transit to Nepal

2 foreign secys finalise issues for PMs' Dec 19 meeting in Delhi; 3 deals to be signed; Dhaka focuses on Teesta water sharing agreement

India gave an upbeat response to giving Bangladesh railway transit to transport goods to Nepal, said Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes yesterday.
Three important agreements will be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's three-day visit to India from December 19.
Dhaka will also emphasise striking a deal on sharing the Teesta water, said the foreign secretary.
Mijarul, after meeting his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao, told journalists at the foreign ministry, “We want to remove cobwebs on different issues and understand each other's position in a transparent manner so we can make joint efforts to resolve the problems.”
Nirupama came to Dhaka on Saturday ahead of Hasina's visit to India to prepare the ground for it.
Bangladesh's connectivity to Bhutan through India, sharing of power, resolution of outstanding border issues, transfer of enclaves, cooperation in river dredging to restore navigability and upgrading Bangladesh railway would be on the agenda of Hasina's first visit to India since her return to power in January.
The agreements to be signed are on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, transfer of sentenced persons, and combating international terrorism, organised crimes and illegal drug trafficking.
Quayes said India agreed to allow railway transit to Nepal through three bordering points -- Birol-Radhikapur, Rahanpur-Singhabad and Chilahati-Haldibari. Earlier in September, New Delhi agreed to provide Nepal-Bangladesh and Bhutan-Bangladesh connectivity.
Besides meeting Quayes, Nirupama also called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia.
During the discussions, the two sides reviewed issues concerning bilateral ties and implementation of Bangladesh-India agreements reached during Dipu Moni's visit to India in September.
In a major development in bilateral relationship, India then agreed to give Bangladesh transit to Nepal and Bhutan, provide at least 100MW power on a priority basis, expand trade and communication and resolve other outstanding issues.
On the other hand, Bangladesh discussed allowing India to use Chittagong Port and designating Ashuganj as a new port of call under the Inland Water Transit and Trade Agreement.
Both sides agreed to resolve issues relating to Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves and Tin Bigha Corridor, according to a joint statement in New Delhi during Dipu Moni's visit.
The two countries also recognised the need to finalise the Teesta water-sharing agreement and agreed to begin Joint Hydrological Observations on the river immediately.
Mijarul said a technical team will meet this month and a draft accord on the sharing of Teesta waters will be sent to India before the prime minister's visit.
"This is a significant visit. We discussed different issues ahead of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India," Nirupama told journalists after bilateral talks with Mijarul at the state guesthouse Padma. She said New Delhi attached highest importance to its ties with Dhaka.
Mijarul said India praised Bangladesh for its steps against terrorists, adding that he and his Indian counterpart stressed the need for resolving the outstanding border problems including killings on bordering areas as soon as possible.
Bangladesh, as per the joint statement, would allow India to carry machinery to its north-eastern part to set up a power plant. He said India would sell 250 megawatts of electricity produced in the power plant in Palatana.
Replying to a question whether Bangladesh would give India multi-modal transit facilities via Ashkuganj the foreign secretary said, "There was no mention of declaring Ashuganj as a port of call in the joint statement."
He, however, said any development could take place during the highest political level visits (prime ministers level visit).
In the afternoon, Nirupama called on Hasina at her official residence where they discussed in details the forthcoming visit by the Bangladesh premier to India.
Hasina will fly to New Delhi after attending the climate change summit in Copenhagen. She will hold official meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on December 19.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia expressed her concern over the frequent killings of Bangladeshis by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) when Nirupama Rao called on her at her Gulshan office. She urged her to take steps to stop such killings immediately.
“They discussed bilateral issues. The opposition leader said her party wants to maintain a friendly relation with New Delhi,” Khaleda's foreign Affairs Adviser Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury told reporters after the talk.
About India's planned Tipaimukh Dam, she hoped that India would not do anything that would harm Bangladesh. In this regard, Khaleda referred to her proposal to carry out an impact assessment survey of the dam.
The Indian foreign minister, in reply, assured that interests of both the countries should be safeguarded first before something is done.

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