Monday, August 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, Bangladesh to fight terrorism

Dhaka, August 25
India and Bangladesh today agreed to join hands in the battle against terrorism particularly its manifestation in the region as New Delhi denied it was playing a "big brother" role in South Asia.

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha wrapped up his maiden visit to Bangladesh with a significant economic content imparted to bilateral ties with Dhaka agreeing to expand multi-modal transport links to boost bilateral trade and the two countries resolving to make economic linkages as vehicle for enhanced relations between them.

"The two governments agreed that they will cooperate by joining the international community’s war against global terrorism and particularly its manifestation in our region," External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said wrapping up his two-day visit to Bangladesh holding talks with Prime Minister Khaleda Zia other Bangladeshi leaders.

At a luncheon meeting with a select group of Editors here, Mr Sinha made it clear that India never played "big brother" role in South Asia and said asserted relations between New Delhi and Dhaka would be on "equal footing."

The two countries also decided to reactivate their Joint Working Group (JWG) on customs facilitations and hold regular meetings between the security forces to check any untoward incident on their common border as Bangladesh premier Khaleda Zia accepted an invitation to visit New Delhi soon.

Talking to reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Begum Khaleda, Mr Sinha said the JWG on customs facilitations would meet in the first half of October to discuss ways to streamline the movement of goods across the common border and check large-scale smuggling.

Mr Sinha, who held extensive talks with Bangladesh Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan last night, said the two countries proposed to launch a Dhaka-Agartala bus service soon. Bangladesh, he said, was upgrading the infrastructure on the land route between Dhaka and the Tripura capital.

He said the border security forces of the two countries had been asked to hold regular flag meetings to ensure that there were no untoward incidents on their 4156-km-long border. He also noted that a small portion totalling 6.5 km of the border between the two countries remained undemocratic.

Mr Sinha said the two countries felt that they could resolve all bilateral problems through consultations. If some of the problems were “too complicated’’, they could be resolved at the political level.

Meanwhile, in an interview to the United News of Bangladesh, Mr Sinha said India welcomed Bangladesh’s close business links with the North-Eastern states. Therefore, there was no question of creating hurdles in this regard.

However, he advised Bangladesh to look at business links with the North-Eastern states in the overall context of dealings with India as a whole. “A narrow segmentary approach will be counter-productive ... we are inviting you to increase your business links with the whole of India,’’ he said. UNI

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