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Saturday, June 6, 2015, Jaishtha 23, 1422 BS, Shaban 18, 1436 Hijr

Process for Teesta treaty going on: FM
Diplomatic Correspondent
Published : Saturday, 6 June, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 23
Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mamood Ali on Friday said that the process to have the Teesta river water sharing treaty between Bangladesh and India was going on and everything did not happen overnight.
The Foreign Minister was briefing the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Dhaka about the two-day state visit of Indian Prime Minister. The Foreign Minister faced a volley of questions on the possibility of having the Teesta treaty signed during Modi's visit.
Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Bangladesh during June 6 and 7. The Foreign Minister at the press conference said that the Teesta issue was being discussed behind the scene, not seen by others.
He said that the Teesta treaty was not on the agenda with talks with Modi.
 "But there is nothing to worry, as the process to have the treaty signed with India is going on," he added.
In response to a query of a journalist, he explained that some tricky negotiations cannot conclude overnight. Citing an example, Mahmood Ali said after 41 years of diplomatic efforts, the historic Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) was ratified by Lok Sabha (Parliament).
He scoffed off a remark of a journalist whether the Foreign Minister would accept the blame of diplomatic failure for not having the issue on the agenda.
Describing Bangladesh's diplomatic flurries, he said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was scheduled to arrive in the capital Dhaka on Friday night. This indicates that negotiations on the Teesta water sharing were active and going on.
The FM said that many crucial issues were included in the agenda for discussions, vis-?-vis several protocols and a dozen of memoranda of understanding (MoU) will be signed by the two neighbouring countries.
Mahmood Ali said that since Sheikh Hasina was elected to power in 2009, the relations with India attained new heights.
During the two-day visit Modi and Hasina will sign the Instrument of Ratification of the historic LBA.
He regretted that a year after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975, the discussion on LBA remained frozen.
The LBA was signed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi on 16 May 1974 and the issue received fresh impetus after Hasina returned to power in 1996, he added.
Ali described Modi's visit as historic as it comes soon after the resolution of a 41-year-old land boundary problem that had confined over 50,000 people as stateless inhabitants in enclaves on both sides of the border.
At least 20 instruments ranging from security cooperation to people-to-people contacts would be signed during his 36-hour visit that Dhaka believes would further strengthen the existing friendly relations.
He said Bangladesh's focus would be on connectivity as two bus services, connecting mainland India with its hard-to-reach north-eastern states through Bangladesh, would be flagged off during the visit.
"This (connectivity) is part of our Prime Minister's vision to make poverty free integrated South Asia. We are actively working for this even in regional forum like BIMSTEC and BCIM for establishing greater connectivity," he said.
He said Bangladesh was getting 500 MW of electricity from India and "We are working on to get 600 MW more. But for that we have to develop infrastructure". Officials earlier said that during his visit, Modi would roll out a $2-billion line of credit for various infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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