Dhaka, Sep 6
India and Bangladesh Tuesday cemented their ties by inking pacts on a variety of issues ranging from land disputes to tiger conservation, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying that they have “agreed on a new architecture for our partnership”.
Hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived on a two-day visit, the two countries signed framework agreement on cooperation for development and a protocol on demarcating their land boundary, a pact to facilitate overland transit to Nepal and on conserving the Royal Bengal Tiger — and the Sundarbans.
There were Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in fisheries, cooperation between Dhaka University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, cooperation between Doordarshan and Bangladesh Television and between the fashion technology institutes of the two countries.
The agreements were signed after Manmohan Singh, the first Indian prime minister to visit Bangladesh in 12 years, held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina for over half hour.
Both leaders also met separately for about 45 minutes.
Manmohan Singh said after the signing ceremony: “We have agreed on a new architecture for our partnership. This will open new vistas of bilateral cooperation, strengthen regional cooperation within South Asia and set an example of good neighbourly relations.”
“The framework agreement on cooperation for development that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and I have signed is a contemporary blueprint designed to encompass all forms and sectors of cooperation.”
He added: “Our common rivers need not be sources of discord, but can become the harbingers of prosperity to both our countries.
“We have decided to continue discussions to reach a mutually acceptable, fair and amicable arrangement for the sharing of the Teesta and Feni river waters.”
The Teesta river water sharing accord could not take place as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had protested against it.
The Indian prime minister noted that India was fully alive to the problem of trade imbalance between India and Bangladesh.
“We will provide duty free access to the Indian market to 46 textile tariff lines as requested by Bangladesh.”
Manmohan Singh said that India has embarked on a series of measures to improve border infrastructure. “These will facilitate Bangladesh’s exports to India and provide it greater opening to India and other neighbouring countries. We are addressing issues relating to non-tariff barriers together with Bangladesh.”
“Projects worth over $750 million under the $1 billion line of credit announced last year have been identified for implementation.”
He said he has conveyed India’s deep appreciation for the cooperation rendered by Bangladesh in the joint fight against terrorism and insurgency. “This has brought much needed stability to both of us, and to this region as a whole.”
Sheikh Hasina, on her part, said they have made considerable progress.
“From now on, our people in Dahagram and Angarpota will have 24-hour unfettered movement through Tin Bigha corridor.”
“We have signed a framework agreement on cooperation and development – a visionary document that looks at not only the realities today, but also the potentials of tomorrow.”
Hasina said: “India would allow duty-free access of 61 items from Bangladesh to the Indian market that were in the sensitive list.”
Manmohan Singh was accorded a warm welcome by Sheikh Hasina on his arrival at the Shah Jalal International Airport here.
Accompanying the Indian prime minister are External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi of Assam, Manik Sarkar of Tripura, Pu Lalthanhawla of Mizoram and Mukul Sangma of Meghalaya.