Dhaka hopeful of progress on Teesta talks with India

Last Updated: Friday, January 8, 2010 - 12:30

Dhaka: Though a deal on sharing the Teesta river water was not expected to be signed by Bangladesh and India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s New Delhi visit next week, Dhaka was still hopeful of "progress" during the summit level talks.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Thursday said she hoped that progress will be made towards signing of the deal when the two Prime Ministers` talk on January 11, The Daily Star reported.

"We are not expecting the (Teesta) deal during this trip. But progress will be made in this regard as we expect a meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission soon," Moni said as she announced details of the Prime Minister`s tour schedule in New Delhi.

The two countries, however, will sign three agreements on criminal matters, and two memorandums of understanding.

The expected deals on criminal matters are Agreement for Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, and Agreement on Combating International Terrorism, Organised Crime and Illegal Drug Trafficking.

One of the expected memorandums of understanding is on power sector cooperation, and the other is on road and railway infrastructure development projects, Dipu Moni said.

Her statement came two days after secretary-level talks of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC), when senior officials had said they had "narrowed down" their differences on sharing the water of Teesta, and will continue efforts to expedite a deal.

"Dhaka has already sought a date for the minister-level meeting from India," she added.

Teesta is one of the river systems that the two South Asian neighbours share.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister said there had been no discussion on sharing the Teesta water over the last six to seven years. "Talks in this regard kicked off a few days ago. The secretary-level talks did make headway," she added.

She said the Hasina will raise her concerns about proposed construction of the Tipaimukh dam with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.

India was undertaking construction of a dam over the Barak river which is known as the Surma river in Bangladesh.

New Delhi has repeatedly assured that it would do nothing that would jeopardise Bangladesh`s interests.

The Foreign Minister said the Indian authorities several times in the past assured Bangladesh of not doing anything harmful to the latter. "As per diplomatic norms, promises of `no harm to other` are well accepted. So, we accept the Indian assurance of not harming Bangladesh," Moni was quoted as saying.

She said Hasina will also discuss with Manmohan Singh the issue of third-country trade by Bhutan and Nepal.

"Dhaka will demand that the Indian authorities allow Nepal and Bhutan passage to Mongla port for their export-import activities."

Dhaka has been requesting Delhi to allow the two landlocked countries to use Indian territories to reach Bangladesh`s Mongla port.

On her first visit to India since she took office a year ago, Hasina will fly to New Delhi Sunday for a three-day tour.

She will be accompanied by Dipu Moni, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen, PM`s advisers HT Imam, Moshiur Rahman and Gowher Rizvi, and secretaries to different ministries.

IANS




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