The motor vehicles agreement is being negotiated for the BBIN.
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar Saturday said they are discussing a motor vehicles agreement between India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, as an initiative under sub-regional cooperation. The agreement, if it comes through, will allow trucks to travel between these countries and make trade easier, The Indian Express News Service reports.
Jaishankar, who was speaking at the 6th India-Bangladesh friendship dialogue, said, “Possibilities are immense under the regional and sub-regional cooperation. The motor vehicles agreement is being negotiated for the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).” A meeting of senior officials has already taken place in this regard, he added.
This assumes significance as Pakistan had last November blocked the agreement, citing domestic processes.
Jaishankar, when asked about the Teesta water-sharing deal, said, “Discussions are underway. Normally, when discussions are ongoing, it is prudent not to comment.”
Bangladesh Minister of State Shahriar Alam had Friday expressed hope that the Teesta water-sharing issue will be resolved in a “win-win” manner. Addressing the event, Alam said Modi has generated “new hope” in the region and Bangladesh wants to benefit from it.
Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali said, “We are very optimistic that the Teesta water sharing issue will also be resolved soon.”
The Teesta deal was set to be inked during former PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March, when water flow temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs every year.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the two countries can cooperate on a range of issues such as environment, climate change, railways and joint water management.
Mamata may accompany PM
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to accompany Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits neighbouring Bangladesh next month. Confirming that Mamata has expressed her “willingness” to visit Bangladesh, a senior official of that country’s government said they are waiting for one of “most important historical moments” between the two countries that would “give the bilateral relations a different shape”.
“ We have already spoken to the chief minister’s office in Kolkata. We are likely to receive her official confirmation in a day or two. All the required documents from her office are expected to reach our office soon,” the official said.
After ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement by the Indian Parliament, Bangladesh wants the two countries to focus on resolving other long-pending problems such as Teesta water sharing issue and delimitation of maritime boundary.
“We are very optimistic that the Teesta water-sharing issue will also be resolved soon,” Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali had said in Delhi Friday.
The Indian Express/QH