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10.02.2009 Feature Article

Bangladesh-India agreements signed

Bangladesh just has seen off two foreign dignitaries those are Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukharjee and Richard Boucher, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia. These important guests were in their Dhaka visit after the December-2008 election, which turned the nation a parliamentary democracy again from a two-year long military backed extra constitutional interim government that imposed State of Emergency over the country. The dignitaries were visiting Bangladesh on 9th and 7th & 8th December respectively.

Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukharjee's visit was an important concentration of media, officials, and academician and of course for the common people as the two neighbors have many issues to be discussed and resolved. The visit of US assistant secretary Richard Boucher was also important in same manner to the same group of people. Whoever Indian foreign minister signed two agreements with his Bangladesh counterparts and US assistant secretary expressed the US willingness to assist in many sectors. Pranab Mukharjee and his counterparts Bangladesh Industries Minister Dilip Barua and Commerce Minister Faruk Khan signed the agreements on behalf of their respective governments.

Bangladesh industries minister Dilip Barua, and Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee signed the new Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) that seeks to promote and protect investments from either country in the territory of the other, with the objective of increasing bilateral investment flow. As of BIPA, Bangladesh and India will from now on consider each other the most favored nation (MFN).

Under the renewed bilateral trade agreement signed between Bangladesh commerce minister Faruk Khan and Mukherjee for three more years, both countries will now be able to use each other's waterways, roadways, and railways for transportation of goods between two places in one country through the territory of the other.

However, Bangladesh and India agreed to fight militancy and terrorism jointly in a bid to establish peace and stability in South Asian region, but no agreement signed in this regard bilaterally; though the issue was much talked about among concerned community.

Meanwhile, The Indian Minister for External Affairs, Pranab Mukherjee, agreed with Bangladesh's proposal of forming a joint anti-terrorism taskforce to combat regional terrorism and militancy, local press said quoting, Abul Kalam Azad, the press secretary of Bangladesh prime minister Sheik Hasina.

Mukherjee apparently made a positive response when prime minister Sheik Hasina made the proposal of forming the joint anti-terrorism taskforce during a meeting with him at the premier's official residence on Hare Road, Azad quoted.

While Richard Boucher wrapping up his Dhaka visit, he stated that The United States has willingness to assist Bangladesh in maritime patrol and secure its unprotected territorial sea though Washington has no plan to set up a 'military base' in Bangladesh's territorial waters.

Boucher said, 'I think there are some interests in maritime patrol so you can protect your sea areas better. We can help their activities but the modalities will depend on what Bangladesh wants.' He express disagreement on the issue that the US might be planning to set up a military base in Bangladesh. 'We do not have any intention for a permanent presence', Boucher farther said.

Meanwhile, Political parties, civic forums, academics and the people in general have expressed concern over the proposal made by the United States to assist Bangladesh in patrolling its maritime boundaries and questioned the motive for such offer. But an analyst of international affairs and a maritime expert found nothing wrong in the US offer, rather they thought it might be very positive for Bangladesh, a local newspaper reports.

Mohoshin Abbas
Mohoshin Abbas, © 2009

The author has 26 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: MohoshinAbbas

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