`Indian PM’s visit to Dhaka had positive outcomes`

Cooperation between India and Bangladesh could resolve the bilateral differences, a top Bangladeshi official said here on Saturday.

Dhaka: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s recent visit to Dhaka was "successful" and gave an "unshakable momentum" to the development of collaborative ties between the two neighbours, top officials from India and Bangladesh gathered here at a coneference have said.

The two-day conference that began here Saturday seeks to assess the outlook for ties between Bangladesh and India following Manmohan Singh`s visit earlier this month, the first by an Indian prime minister in 12 years.
The conference, called "Bangladesh-India Relations in the Age of Globalisation", was inaugurated at Dhaka University by Gowher Rizvi, adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who said it was time to say goodbye to the politics of confrontation and suspicion that dogged relations between the countries for decades and fetched no results, either diplomatically or politically.

"Time has come to look for comprehensive solutions to problems rather than take a piecemeal approach that got stuck and hindered overall bilateral development to the detriment of people of both countries," Rizvi said.

He said it was time for both to think big and go beyond bilateral transit issues to the larger process of regional connectivity and integration that extended beyond Bangladesh and India to Myanmar, Nepal and China.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes called the Manmohan Singh visit on Sep 6-7 "eminently successful" and called for "reninventing bilateral relations" with an "intellectual leap", and said conferences like this should provide ideas not just for physical connectivity, but connectivity of ideas, culture and business.

Indian High Commissioner Rajeet Mitter said the visit, that returned the path-breaking visit of Sheikh Hasina to India in January 2010, was "significant in the charting of a futuristic direction of India-Bangladesh relations aimed at ultimately improving the lives of peoples in our two countries".
He said the signing of the protocol on land boundary was "truly historic" as the problem of undemarcated border, disputed enclaves and what are called adverse possessions had been lingering baggages of the past since the partition of the subcontinent.

Mitter said the opening of the Indian textile and apparel market to Bangladesh was "unique and unprecedented" and as a result "over 95 percent of items being exported by Bangladesh now enjoy duty-free access into the Indian market".

He said several positive outcomes of the visit got overlooked by the media that only saw it through the prism of the failure to sign the Teesta water-sharing agreement. One important document that was signed was bilateral railway agreement that gave Bangladesh rail transit to Nepal through Rohanpur-Singabad.

In fact, even before this agreement, India facilitated the transit of a consignment of fertilisers which was imported into Chittagong port and then sent by rail to Nepal, Mitter said.

The conference has been jointly organised by the Centre for Alternatives, Dhaka, and the Bangldesh Studies Programme of the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Academicians, foreign policy and trade experts, area studies specialists and media persons will deliberate on issues of bilateral interest for two days before coming out with a book that will be launched next year suggesting the future course for both countries in the globalisation era.


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