Indian president conveyed commitment on Teesta, land boundary: Bangladesh

By Ranjana Narayan | Tuesday, March 05, 2013 | 1:52:01 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

Dhaka, March 5 (IANS) Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni Tuesday said that visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee had conveyed "very strongly" that the Indian government is "fully committed" to the assurances given to Dhaka on two outstanding issues - the Teesta water-sharing agreement and the land boundary agreement.

Dhaka, March 5 (IANS) Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni Tuesday said that visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee had conveyed "very strongly" that the Indian government is "fully committed" to the assurances given to Dhaka on two outstanding issues - the Teesta water-sharing agreement and the land boundary agreement.

Addressing a press conference here, Moni said: "The Indian president has definitely conveyed to us and very strongly and conveyed it on many occasions (in Dhaka) that the Indian government is fully committed on its assurance given to Bangladesh."

Mukherjee had assured Dhaka that the Constitution Amendment Bill to facilitate implementation of the 1974 LBA would be placed in parliament, she said.

"And once the consultations on it are done, he also expects the interim agreement on Teesta to be signed," she said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has termed the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement as flawed and declared that the government cannot bank on its support when the Constitution Amendment Bill to facilitate implementation of the pact comes up in parliament during the budget session.

The Indian cabinet last month cleared the Bill to amend the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 1974, and the protocol of 2011.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said the pact signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Dhaka was one-sided.

"He has said it publicly (in Dhaka) so many times... We have heard it and you have heard it and it is a very clear message," she added.

Asked what if the BJP did not support the bill, Moni said she did not want to comment on the internal politics of India. "They will have to take care of their own constituencies and fulfill their commitments.

"The assurance has come from the highest political level and highest office of the state of India saying they are committed, and they are hopeful it will be done soon, and we take it in that light."

Asked if fulfilling the two contentious issues were part of the Awami League's election pledge, Moni said "they are not directly our election pledge."

"Our election pledge is to have better relations," she said.

The two issues "will take place in due course and we will go to our goals in due course... I don't think they are dependent on each other."

She said the Awami League has "fulfilled almost all of its pledges".

"We have done what we could do and we will do what is doable and deliverable in five years."

She said Bangladesh has received the invitation for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit India, and "in due course we will do what is necessary".

An additional protocol for the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement, inked during the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2011 visit to Dhaka, requires a Constitutional amendment for ratification as they involve exchange of land in 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves on Indian soil.

Bangladesh has already ratified the pact. Indian enclaves in Bangladesh are spread over 17,149 acres, while Bangladesh enclaves in India are located on 7,110 acres of land.

Mukherjee, during his one-on-one talks with Hasina Sunday, assured that both issues would be addressed and talks were on with stakeholders in India.

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at ranjana.n@ians.in)

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