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India clears rail projects for Bangladesh, discusses water accord

Wednesday June 08, 2011 02:06:41 AM, IANS

New Delhi/Dhaka: Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka later this year, the foreign secretaries of India and Bangladesh Tuesday held talks to review the progress in implementing developmental projects unveiled last year and discussed an accord on Teesta river water sharing.

"Both sides have made considerable progress in implementation of the joint communique since the visit (of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India last year)," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters at a joint press conference with her counterpart Mijarul Quayes in Dhaka.

"Implementation of projects under the $1 billion Line of Credit from India has been high priority for both sides. We have just conveyed our concurrence for a number of projects under the LOC in railway infrastructure and the purchase of buses for the city of Dhaka," she said.

"These can be implemented immediately. India is committed to implementation of far-reaching decisions taken by the leaders of both countries," stressed Rao, who began her two-day visit to Dhaka Monday.

Rao also announced that the two sides "have made substantial forward movement in respect of both water and land boundary issues."

"Both sides are discussing interim water sharing of the Teesta and Feni rivers. The work on river bank protection and embankment construction along the common rivers is progressing and the dredging of the Ichhamati River along the 20 km common stretch is nearing completion," she said.

An accord on Teesta river water sharing, which was finalized at the talks between the water resource secretaries of the two sides in New Delhi Sunday, could form the highlight of Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka, likely in August.

Manmohan Singh is looking forward to his visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of Sheikh Hasina to take forward the mutually beneficial cooperation agreed by the two prime ministers in January 2010, Rao said.

Rao's trip is likely to followed by that of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to India's eastern neighbour, setting the stage for Manmohan Singh's trip to Dhaka. Manmohan Singh last visited Dhaka in 2005 for the SAARC summit.

Issues like enhanced counter-terror cooperation and bridging the trade deficit also figured in the discussions. The two sides also discussed a boundary agreement. Only about 6.1 km of the frontier remains to be demarcated.




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