Hasina, India PM hold talks on Teesta river

By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, Bhutanese prime minster Jigme Y Thinley, Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, Nepal prime minister Baburam Bhattarai, Pakistan’s prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse posing for photographers at the inaugural session of the 17th Saarc Summit, on Addu atoll, Maldives yesterday
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh yesterday discussed in details the sharing of the Teesta River water and transit facilities for India.The two prime ministers held the discussion at Dr Ali’s Restaurant of Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort at 11:45am, hours before the formal opening of the 17th Saarc summit in Addu City in the Maldives.
PM’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad said, the two leaders had positive discussion on the Teesta water sharing and transit issues.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed the hope that the completion of the strip maps of the remaining parts of the common border would be signed soon, a report reaching Dhaka said.
She also hoped that the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement and the Protocol would take place soonest to put at rest the issues of exchange of enclaves and adverse possession of lands.
Hasina said Bangladesh expects that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for movement of Bhutanese and Indian trucks up to 200 yards across the zero line at Burimari-Chengrabanda and Benapole-Petrapole to be operational soon.
Bangladesh is seriously considering an Indian request for opening markets on Bangladesh-Mizoram-Tripura border, she said, adding that the Kurigram border market is doing well.
Hasina thanked the Indian Prime Minister for granting Rohanpur-Singabad rail route for Nepalese transit cargo through Bangladesh. “All three countries will benefit from this connectivity,” she said.
Referring to the three trial runs for the multi-modal transport from Ashuganj to Agartala, she said Bangladesh is waiting for feedback to move forward.
Purchase of electricity from India also came up for discussion in the meeting.
Hasina underscored the importance of signing an agreement in this regard soon. “I hope we will be able to buy power from Palatana Power Plant in Tripura and from other power projects in the northeast India, Bhutan and Nepal,” she said.
The Prime Minister also hoped that the projects financed by Indian grants, on Feni Bridge, Akhaura-Agartala rail link, upgradation of road from Ashuganj to Akhaura will start soon.
The Indian Prime Minister expressed his positive attitude towards different issues and said Bangladesh and India enjoy very good relationship and this will be strengthened in the future.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Ambassador at large M Ziauddin, Principal Secretary Sheikh Waheed uz Zaman, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes and PM’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad were present.
Bangladesh’s main opposition party yesterday said it supports China’s bid to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
The show of support came as a Chinese Communist Party delegation and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leadership met in Dhaka.
“The party expressed full support for China becoming a member of the regional platform,” said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
The move coincides with the opening yesterday of the 17th Saarc meeting in the Maldives aimed at boosting economic integration and trade liberalisation in South Asia, which is home to more than a fifth of the world’s population.
China maintains observer status in Saarc, a group founded in 1985 to foster regional cooperation.
Saarc groups India, Pakistan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.