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Posted at: Jun 1, 2018, 12:54 AM; last updated: Jun 1, 2018, 12:54 AM (IST)

Bangladesh envoy: India like brother, China a bank manager

Smita Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31

Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali on Thursday defended his country's expanding economic ties with China.

While emphasising that the spirit of 1971 could be felt in ties with India today, relations with China have grown to meet development needs of Bangladesh. In an analogy, the envoy said if his brother does not have money to offer to him to purchase a car, he would go seek a loan from the bank. But the bank manager does not become a brother. The envoy was interacting with journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps.

"We have trade and economic relations with China but we do not want to get into a debt trap. China has offered us line of credit. But it is not for free," said the envoy. He also underlined that unlike in Sri Lanka or Myanmar, Bangladesh did not hand over the deep sea port in Chittagong to Beijing, rather it is being built as a consortium by India, China and EU. "It is being built by all to be of use to all, though the process may be slow," Ali said.

He also expressed concerns on reports about China building dams on the Brahmaputra to divert waters and advocated not just bilateral but trilateral basin management for major rivers. Asked about the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement stuck since 2011 with an unrelenting Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Ali urged that it be resolved at the earliest.

Meanwhile, after the recent meeting between PMs Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi, the two sides are discussing ways to coordinate siltation and dredging of Ganges and Brahmaputra for better outcomes.

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