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23 October, 2017 12:49:24 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 October, 2017 10:39:52 AM
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Exert sustained pressure on Myanmar: Dhaka

Indo-Bangla JCC meeting
DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
Exert sustained pressure on Myanmar: Dhaka
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lead their respective teams at the fourth Joint Consultative Commission meeting between Bangladesh and India held at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital yesterday.

Bangladesh has called upon India to exert sustained pressure on Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas, who had to flee their homes in Rakhine in the face of atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar security forces and local Buddhist mobs. In reply, India said that normal situation in Rakhine state will only possible with the return of displaced people due to violence and voiced the country’s support for the implementation of the recommendations of the Annan commission. “We were happy to be re-assured that India would continue to support the humanitarian cause related to

Rohingyas in Bangladesh. We thank them for humanitarian assistance provided for Rohingyas,” Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said in a joint statement with her Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after the fourth meeting of Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission at a local hotel yesterday.

“We further urged India to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis including sustainable return of all Rohingyas to their homeland,” he said.

“…India is deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar. We have urged that the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population,” said Indian Minister Swaraj, who arrived yesterday on a two-day trip to co-chair the fourth JCC meeting, without uttering the word Rohingya.

 “It is clear that normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state. In our view, the only long term solution to the situation in Rakhine State is rapid socio-economic and infrastructure development that would have a positive impact on all the communities living in the State.  India, for its part, has committed to provide financial and technical assistance for identified projects to be undertaken in Rakhine State in conjunction with the local authorities,” she said.

“We have also supported implementation of the recommendations contained in the Kofi Annan led Special Advisory Commission report,” she added detailing the relief activities conducted by India for Rohingyas.

Neither of the ministers, however, took any question from the journalists.

Describing India as Bangladesh’s most important, trusted and friendly neighbor, Foreign Minister Ali said both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations during the fourth JCC meeting and expressed satisfaction at the progress in implementation of decisions since the 3rd JCC meeting held in Delhi in September, 2014.

“We also followed up on the understandings reached between the two Prime Ministers during their reciprocal visits in June 2015 and April 2017,” he said. “Bangladesh-India relations now stand on a historic new height due to initiatives taken across sectors, namely, trade, connectivity, security & border management, water, power & energy, development cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, among others,” said the minister.

“The JCC meeting appreciated the current level of engagement for security cooperation. We both reiterated the strong commitment not to allow use of our soils against each other’s interest and ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and violent extremism. We have also noted with appreciation the pledge by BGB-BSF to maintain sanctity of the international border, and that while doing so, to practice maximum restraint to bring down the number of deaths at border to zero,” he said.

Ali also said, “Water resources must act as a uniting force between our two countries. We discussed the issue of sharing of water of common rivers including the signing of Teesta Water Sharing Agreement. We recalled this statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 April 2017 that the Teesta agreement will be signed during the current tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

“We sought India’s technical and financial support to carry out a feasibility study on the long term options for Bangladesh to ensure optimum use of Ganges water,” he said.

“We discussed issues to facilitate trade and investments further including progress in the implementation of Indian SEZs in Bangladesh. We requested India to facilitate the removal of anti-dumping duty on Jute and Jute products. Other trade related issues including opening of new border haats, improvement of infrastructural facilities at land ports were also discussed,” said the foreign minister.

“Our cooperation in power and energy sectors has been significant over the past several years. In addition to current import of 660 MW, the Indian side has agreed to supply 340 MW more electricity from Tripura through Comilla grid,” he said.

“We have also discussed new proposals for supply of electricity from West Bengal and India’s north-east. Our collaboration in nuclear energy, renewables, LNG, LPG, gasoil etc. were discussed,” he added.

Placing emphasis on connectivity, the foreign minister said, “We agreed that BBIN Motor vehicle Agreement will be implemented between Bangladesh, India and Nepal (BIN) through exchange of letters keeping provision for Bhutan to join later,” he said.

“It was agreed that MOU for trilateral hydropower cooperation among Bangladesh, India and Bhutan would be signed soon. India also agreed to facilitate import of electricity to Bangladesh from hydro projects in Nepal,” said Ali.

“We have agreed to work closely with India in advancing the agenda of BIMSTEC. Our efforts to promote mutually beneficial collaboration at multilateral fora including at the UN will continue,” he said.

The minister mentioned of signing and handing over of three other bilateral documents including capacity building in SMH, Sale-purchase Agreement between Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and Numaiigarh Refinery of India.

He handed over the Instrument of Ratification for Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance (ISA) that Bangladesh ratified in August 2017.

In her statement, the Indian external affairs minister said that Delhi attaches the utmost importance to its relations with Bangladesh and the partnership today touches upon virtually all areas of human endeavour.   “Our relations are based on fraternal ties and are reflective of an all-encompassing partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding that goes far beyond a strategic partnership,” she said.

“We discussed the common challenges that we are faced with today.  One such challenge is that of terrorism, extremism and radicalization and we will continue to fight this scourge together and along with other like-minded countries.  We are both determined to protect our societies from the threat of ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a zero tolerance policy and a comprehensive approach in fighting violent extremism and terrorism at all levels,” she said.

“We also discussed various aspects of our bilateral relations and reviewed progress on key initiatives and decisions, including those taken during the recent visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India,” Swaraj said.

“We are satisfied with progress achieved in areas such as trade and investment, security, connectivity, border management, power, energy, shipping, people to people exchanges, to name a few,” she said.

The Indian minister concluded by saying, “Friends, while I have focused on the progress in our bilateral relationship, we are aware of the outstanding issues. We assure you that we are working to resolve them.”

MK

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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