Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dhaka seeks signing of stalled Teesta treaty

JCC meet discusses major Indo-Bangladesh issues

Dhaka seeks signing of stalled Teesta treaty

News Desk: Bangladesh Tuesday sought the settling of the long- pending proposed Teesta deal as foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen held ministerial- level Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) talks with his counterpart Dr S Jaishankar through virtual platform. “We have got positive responses from the Indian side” on the issue, Momen told a media briefing on the outcome of the talks in the afternoon at his office. He added that Dhaka was always hopeful about the signing of Teesta treaty while his meeting with Jaishankar featured as well the issue of potential water-sharing agreements on six of the remaining transboundary rivers — Monu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gomti, Dharla and Dudhkumar. The Bangladesh foreign office, shortly after the briefing, issued a statement supplementing Momen, saying “both sides underscored the necessity of early resolution of the Teesta water sharing and early resolution of agreements on sharing of all common rivers”. The two sides also agreed to hold the long-pending Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting soon at the ministerial level to address outstanding issues on water- resources cooperation. “It (JRC meeting) will be held very soon,” Momen said. This was the sixth JCC meeting led by the two foreign ministers but first on the virtual media in view of the COVID-19 pandemic while the vaccine issue also appeared to be a major issue of their talks. Momen said the meeting discussed about cooperation on access to potential COVID 19 vaccine while India side assured that Bangladesh would get priority in receiving any potential vaccine which it could develop. “We (however) will collect the vaccine from where we can get it first,” Momen said adding that Dhaka by now communicated with all possible countries including China, Russia, Britain and European Union for its access to potential Covid 19 vaccine The foreign office statement elaborated the point saying both sides discussed collaboration in the health sector “especially in terms of supply, delivery, distribution and co-production of COVID-19 vaccine”. “Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Bangladesh appreciated India’s assurance on prioritizing Bangladesh for supply of the potential vaccine in the future,” it read. The Rohingya crisis appeared to be another issue of the JCC talks when Dhaka sought India’s enhanced cooperation for its resolution while New Delhi reiterated its stance for safe, secure and sustainable Rohingya repatriation. Momen said India today promised to extend its hand as Dhaka requested for their cooperation to resolve the crisis in line with the UN Security Council (UNNSC) resolution. The foreign ministry statement said he expressed hope that as a non-permanent UNSC member India would play a “more meaningful role” for a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis through the Rohingyas early repatriation to Myanmar in a safe and sustainable manner. Momen said his Indian counterpart agreed with him to bring down border killing to zero level as “we don’t want any death along the frontier and it’s a shame for friendly countries like Bangladesh and India”. During Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s recent Dhaka visit, Dhaka expressed deep concern over growing incidents of casualties along the border due to unexpected actions by the Indian border guards during the first half of this year. Bangladesh flagged that this is in violation of all bilateral agreements and that the Indian Border Security Force must be duly urged to exercise maximum restraint. Following the concern, a directors’ general-level meeting between Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and India’s Border Security Force (BSF) was held in the capital earlier this month where the Indian side agreed to use lethal weapons as “last resort” to check criminal activities on frontiers. Momen revealed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi were set to hold talks in December while the pandemic situation at that time would decide if it would be staged virtually or they two leaders would meet in person. According to Momen and the statement issued by his office the two foreign ministers also discussed issues including trade, line of credit and air bubble during their talks. According to the statement Bangladesh side thanked India for the concessions being provided under SAFTA but said various non- tariff barriers and lack of adequate trade facilitation was impeding flow of Bangladeshi products into India, particularly, the North East. It said Momen requested New Delhi to address issues of accreditation, certification, standardization, port restrictions and developing port infrastructure to enable exports of Bangladesh into India. “The Bangladesh Foreign Minister requested his Indian counterpart to look into the export of essential commodities, such as onions by India, since this impact the domestic market of Bangladesh,” the statement read. Bangladesh, it said, also stressed on the equitable application of investment policies by India. Both sides also discussed the joint programmes for celebrating ongoing Mujib Year marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh in the next year. The JCC also reviewed the projects under the Indian line of credit and Dhaka put emphasis on expediting the implementation process of the projects under an Indian line of credit and decided to form a monitoring committee to regularly review the progress of the ongoing projects. “Enhancing cooperation on energy and power sector through facilitation of tripartite power-energy cooperation among Bangladesh- India-Nepal and Bangladesh-India-Bhutan was also discussed,” the statement said. The two Foreign Ministers recognized the positive trajectory of bilateral relations enjoyed by the two countries and exchanged gratitude with each other for maintaining the gesture of good neighborliness. The two foreign ministers agreed to jointly celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh and the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The foreign office statement said a number of programmes were proposed to organize jointly to mark the Mujib Year and 50th anniversary of establishment of bilateral ties. These, it said, included revival of the historic Mujibnagar-Kolkata road, honoring the Indian war veterans, ceremonial military parades on 16 December, friendship fairs, year-long seminars in different cities of Bangladesh and India and simultaneous launching of a website on 50 years of victory and friendship. The two sides agreed to establish Bangabandhu-Bapu digital museums both in Bangladesh and India. “Both sides expressed satisfaction that even during the current situation induced by the pandemic COVID-19, Bangladesh and India have maintained robust engagements,” the statement read. It said after the talks,Momen and jaishankar jointly unveiled two commemorative stamps as part of the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India, it said, would also release a commemorative stamp on the birth centenary of Bangabandhu on 16 December 2020 to pay their homage to Bangladesh’s founder. During the 5th India-Bangladesh JCC meeting held on February 8 last year in New Delhi four MoUs were signed to further strengthen the existing multifaceted cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. With BSS, media inputs

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