Dhaka: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said
there need not be any fears in Bangladesh over the issue of
offering transit facilities to India for getting easy access
to the country`s landlocked northeast.
Ahead of his two-day visit to Bangladesh starting
on Tuesday, Singh however said India would move only at a pace
with which Bangladesh is "comfortable" in regard to the
transit through its territories to the north-eastern region.
The Prime Minister also said the two neighbouring
countries must confront the challenge of terrorism "head on",
noting that their counter-terror cooperation was crucial.
Asked how he would dispel fears in some quarters in
Bangladesh over offering transit facilities to India, he said
this was entirely a sovereign decision for Bangladesh to take
and "we respect whatever decision Bangladesh takes".
"However, I see no reason for Bangladesh to be fearful
of improving transport and infrastructure connectivity with
India. There is a lot that can be done for the benefit of both
countries in this regard, including through inland waterways,"
he said in an interview to Bangladesh`s national news agency
BSS ahead of his visit.
India has sought transit facilities to its north-eastern
states through road and railway routes and ports in
Singh said India has already opened up rail and road
routes for transit to link Nepal and Bhutan with Bangladesh.
With five Indian states sharing borders with Bangladesh,
Singh also said he sees a potential in that country a
potential to become a "springboard" for development of India`s
far flung northeast.
"Bangladesh can become the springboard for the
development of India`s North-East region as economic
integration has become the trend in all parts of the world,"
Singh, who had recently ruffled feathers in the
neighbouring country over his remarks about anti-India
feelings among a quarter of Bangladeshis, said he also intends
to carry a message that there was "great affection" and
"respect" in India for the people of Bangladesh.