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Delhi assures Dhaka yet again on Teesta deal, agrees on Rohingya return

  • Published at 07:05 pm February 8th, 2019
BD-India JCC meeting-MoU
Defining the trajectory of bilateral ties, 4 documents were signed and exchanged in the presence of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Momen, including MoU on Training and Capacity Building and Cooperation in Medicinal Plants, on Friday, February 8, 2019 From the official Twitter account of Indian Ministry of External Affairs

The entire gamut of bilateral issues were discussed during the meeting

India has once again assured Bangladesh of early conclusion of the Teesta water sharing agreement.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen requested his Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for water sharing of all common rivers including early resolution of the Teesta water sharing at the fifth meeting of Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) held in Delhi, said a press release forwarded by the High Commission in Delhi.

In response, Sushma Swaraj assured that they would work for early conclusion of Teesta water sharing agreement, it said.

Dhaka and Delhi also agreed on the need to expedite safe and sustainable repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, who had to take shelter in Bangladesh to escape from the brutal violence committed by Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist vigilantes and people from other ethnic groups in Rakhine, said a joint press release that used displaced people rather than Rohingya.

Both the ministers led their respective delegations to the meeting of JCC, a bilateral platform between the two neighbours, to review progress of cooperation in different areas, sort out any problems and explore new avenues of cooperation.

The Indian external affairs minister expressed appreciation for the humanitarian gesture of Bangladesh in supporting a large number of displaced persons from the Rakhine region of Myanmar and assured the foreign minister of India’s continued support for their safe, speedy and sustainable return, according to the release.

Foreign Minister Momen conveyed the gratitude of government of Bangladesh for the humanitarian assistance provided by India in four tranches since September 2017 to help meet the requirements of the displaced persons from Myanmar.

The ministers observed that the relationship between the two countries is now far beyond a strategic partnership and instructed the officials to prepare a forward-looking roadmap for bilateral cooperation to make the partnership irreversible.

The joint press release referred to many aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two sides, but it did not mention if contentious issues like killing of Bangladeshis along the border by the India Border Security Force, Teesta water sharing agreement, which was to be signed in September, 2011, and huge trade imbalance in favour of India were discussed at the meeting.

However, one of the Bangladesh delegation comprising 21 members told the Dhaka Tribune from the Indian capital that all these issues have been raised during the meeting.

Momen also sought India’s cooperation for early repatriation of the Rohingyas.

He emphasized that economic diplomacy is emerging as a foreign policy priority for Bangladesh. He noted that India could play a crucial role in resource mobilization for achieving the SDGs, and discussed the importance of South South and triangular cooperation for developing countries.

The ministers expressed satisfaction that both countries are working closer than ever before in every sector, from security and border management to mutually-beneficial trade and investment flows, power and energy, river water sharing, development partnership, transport connectivity, culture and people-to-people contacts. They welcomed the fact that the relationship was now broadening to include Blue Economy, cyber security, outer space management, new and high technology areas for partnership, such as space, nuclear energy, IT and electronics.

The ministers tasked their accompanying officials to develop a forward looking roadmap for bilateral cooperation to make the partnership irreversible. In particular, they desired that partnership-building efforts should be enhanced in a manner commensurate with commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's Liberation, said the joint release.

Four MoUs signed

Following the meeting, four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on cooperation in different sectors were signed, said the joint release.

The MoUs are on mid-career training of 1,800 Bangladesh civil servants, between AYUSH and the Ministry of Health of Bangladesh on cooperation in the field of medicinal plants, between Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh and Central Bureau of Investigation of India and between Hiranandani Group and Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority to facilitate investments in the Indian Economic Zone in Mongla.

Ahead of the JCC meeting, Momen and Swaraj held a one on one meeting for about 30 minutes, said a diplomat.

This is first overseas visit by the new foreign minister.

On Thursday, he met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Party leaders including immediate-past Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.