Setback in crucial deals dampens Singh's Dhaka visit

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Old 08-Sep-2011
Setback in crucial deals dampens Singh's Dhaka visit

UNP ImageDhaka: A much hyped two-day Bangladesh visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh largely lost its euphoric mood as it failed to yield the inking of two planned crucial deals on water sharing common rivers and transit, the two major pending issues to dominate bilateral ties.

The two neighbours, however, sought to open a new chapter in their relations as they formally resolved their outstanding protracted frontier problems by signing a protocol on land boundary at the end of Singh's talks with Bangladesh premier Shaikh Hasina.

The two neighbours also signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement, one more protocol and seven memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on several areas of mutual interests while the premiers themselves inked a Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development.

Officials familiar with the process said the protocol signing ended immediately the outstanding issues of enclaves, land in adverse possessions and un-demarcated borderline, the three major issues that remained unresolved since the 1947 partition.

Singh also announced a 24-hour access to Bangladeshi nationals through the Tin Bigha corridor besides duty-free access to 46 textile items with immediate effect. Taking the trade route to cement bilateral ties, Singh announced duty-free import of 61 items from Bangladesh that were earlier barred from entering India.

A majority of these items 46 to be precise relate to textiles, particularly readymade garments.

Singh said India was "fully aware of the problem of trade imbalance between India and Bangladesh as Dhaka has long complained that trade with India was grossly unequal with India exporting about $3 billion in goods to Bangladesh against the latter''s export of about $400 million business in jute, ammonia and garments.

Singh said India was also addressing issues relating to non-tariff barriers raised by Bangladesh for entry of its goods into India.

But Singh's Dhaka tour began with a diplomatic drama as Bangladesh summoned the Indian High Commissioner and sought a clarification on media reports about India deciding "at the last minute" not to sign the accord and bluntly conveyed its unhappiness on the issue hours ahead of Singh's arrival.

Singh, however, said he asked officials concerned of his country to find a viable solution to the stalemate on the Teesta waters as the proposed deal on the common river was postponed at the last minute.

Old 08-Sep-2011
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