India, Bangladesh Ink Five Pacts

On opening day of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India, the two countries have inked five pacts including those on cross-border crime and counter terrorism.

Hasina assured India that Bangladesh would not let its soil to be used by groups ‘inimical to India’. There’s been improvement in bilateral ties between the two neighbours after Hasina’s Awami League-led government was voted to power last year.

Last month, Bangladesh cracked down on Indian separatists hiding in Dhaka and handed them over to senior Indian authorities.

The agreements signed relate tomutual legal assistance in criminal matters, transfer of sentenced persons, combating terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking, sharing electricity and bolstering cultural links.

“We are confident that this visit would serve to underline that strong India-Bangladesh relations are vital, not just for both our countries, but for the entire region and the international community,” Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was quoted as sayinb by BBC.

‘The Economic Times’ reported that India extended $1 billion as line of credit to Bangladesh as part of the effort to aid developmental activities in Bangladesh.

Report said quoting sources that this was the largest assistance given by India to any country and underscored the importance New Delhi attached to enchanting bilateral ties with Dhaka. The credit will be extended for a range of projects, including infrastructure development.

Hasina met her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and the ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday.

Observers say that the two countries still have a range of contentious issues to resolve ranging from the sharing of river waters to demarcation of a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh and India share more than 50 rivers but Bangladesh believes that it is not getting enough water, as India has built a number of dams upstream.

The dispute over the maritime border is important as it is believed that there may be vast gas and oil deposits in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, Dipu Moni, was quoted by the BBC as saying that the country was prepared to go the UN if bilateral negotiations failed to solve the maritime boundary dispute.

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