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Bangla bid for closer ties with China irks India

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, March 22 � Bangladesh�s bid to forge closer ties with China by offering transit rights and seeking to establish road and rail links between Chittagong and Kunming has irked India.

New Delhi�s displeasure with the turn of events in distant Beijing found reflection in 37th India-Bangladesh Joint River Commission meet that concluded late on Friday evening, without signing of the joint declaration. An understanding was reached to sign an agreement later this year.

A statement was issued at the end of the two-day conference, which touched on the broad issues discussed at the meeting. Dhaka had to rush in its Foreign Secretary, Mijarul Quayes to re-assure Delhi that its interest would not be hurt.

According to sources, what had upset India was Dhaka�s offer of the same trade and transit facilities like access to Chittagong Port to China. During her five-day China tour, Prime Minister. Sheikh Hasina also visited Kunming and met Premier Wen Jiabao, besides other top officials.

Dhaka has agreed to allow Beijing to use its Chittagong Port facility, as it was offered to India. The Government of Bangladesh has offered to upgrade the facility, enhancing its efficiency and capacity. Further, Bangladesh has sought China�s assistance for its proposed deep sea port in the Bay of Bengal, as part of the �Look East Policy� initiated by the previous BNP regime, sources said.

During the last visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India, it was agreed that India, Bhutan and Nepal would be allowed to use Chittagong and Mongla Ports and now with China joining the race, New Delhi is faced with a whole new scenario, sources added.

Sources said the proposed Chittagong-Kunming railway and road links via Myanmar is crucial to India�s interest. China proposed to up link through Myanmar, which has been accepted by Bangladesh, sources said.

Sources said the Chittagong-Kunming road is envisaged to be the gateway between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh has already held meetings with Myanmar to work out the road network, sources said.

During the Prime Minister�s visit, China and Dhaka discussed in detail the proposed 1,800 km Chittagong-Kunming road and rail network through Myanmar ostensibly to boost trade, commerce and technical assistance between the two countries.

Interestingly, New Delhi has so far been downplaying the demand to revive the historic Stilwell Road linking Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with Kunming via Myanmar owing to security concerns and objections by the Defence Ministry.

Further, to India�s chagrin, Bangladesh and China also discussed about sharing hydrological data of Brahmaputra river that flows out of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

The joint statement issued after the meeting between the Prime Minister and Jibao said that the two sides agreed to carry out sustainable cooperation on hydrological data sharing and flood control of river Brahmaputra, in view of its necessity to disaster reduction in Bangladesh.

The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on water resources management, hydrological data sharing, and flood-control and disaster reduction, based on exchange of letters between the Ministries of Water Resources of the two countries in 2005. At the request of the Bangladesh side, the Chinese side agreed to provide assistance for dredging of riverbeds and for capacity building through training of personnel.

Meanwhile, the 37th meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission Bangladesh side expressed that it is indeed grateful to India for transmitting flood related data from a number of stations in India which helped provide flood forecasts. To minimize loss of lives and properties during flood, Bangladesh requested India to transmit more flood related data from further upstream stations on a continuous basis during the entire monsoon period.

On the Tipaimukh Dam Project, the Indian side reiterated its commitment that it would not take steps that might have adverse impact on Bangladesh. India also conveyed its earlier assurance that it would not take any unilateral decision on its proposed river inter-linking project that might affect Bangladesh.

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Bangla bid for closer ties with China irks India

NEW DELHI, March 22 � Bangladesh�s bid to forge closer ties with China by offering transit rights and seeking to establish road and rail links between Chittagong and Kunming has irked India.

New Delhi�s displeasure with the turn of events in distant Beijing found reflection in 37th India-Bangladesh Joint River Commission meet that concluded late on Friday evening, without signing of the joint declaration. An understanding was reached to sign an agreement later this year.

A statement was issued at the end of the two-day conference, which touched on the broad issues discussed at the meeting. Dhaka had to rush in its Foreign Secretary, Mijarul Quayes to re-assure Delhi that its interest would not be hurt.

According to sources, what had upset India was Dhaka�s offer of the same trade and transit facilities like access to Chittagong Port to China. During her five-day China tour, Prime Minister. Sheikh Hasina also visited Kunming and met Premier Wen Jiabao, besides other top officials.

Dhaka has agreed to allow Beijing to use its Chittagong Port facility, as it was offered to India. The Government of Bangladesh has offered to upgrade the facility, enhancing its efficiency and capacity. Further, Bangladesh has sought China�s assistance for its proposed deep sea port in the Bay of Bengal, as part of the �Look East Policy� initiated by the previous BNP regime, sources said.

During the last visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India, it was agreed that India, Bhutan and Nepal would be allowed to use Chittagong and Mongla Ports and now with China joining the race, New Delhi is faced with a whole new scenario, sources added.

Sources said the proposed Chittagong-Kunming railway and road links via Myanmar is crucial to India�s interest. China proposed to up link through Myanmar, which has been accepted by Bangladesh, sources said.

Sources said the Chittagong-Kunming road is envisaged to be the gateway between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh has already held meetings with Myanmar to work out the road network, sources said.

During the Prime Minister�s visit, China and Dhaka discussed in detail the proposed 1,800 km Chittagong-Kunming road and rail network through Myanmar ostensibly to boost trade, commerce and technical assistance between the two countries.

Interestingly, New Delhi has so far been downplaying the demand to revive the historic Stilwell Road linking Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with Kunming via Myanmar owing to security concerns and objections by the Defence Ministry.

Further, to India�s chagrin, Bangladesh and China also discussed about sharing hydrological data of Brahmaputra river that flows out of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

The joint statement issued after the meeting between the Prime Minister and Jibao said that the two sides agreed to carry out sustainable cooperation on hydrological data sharing and flood control of river Brahmaputra, in view of its necessity to disaster reduction in Bangladesh.

The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on water resources management, hydrological data sharing, and flood-control and disaster reduction, based on exchange of letters between the Ministries of Water Resources of the two countries in 2005. At the request of the Bangladesh side, the Chinese side agreed to provide assistance for dredging of riverbeds and for capacity building through training of personnel.

Meanwhile, the 37th meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission Bangladesh side expressed that it is indeed grateful to India for transmitting flood related data from a number of stations in India which helped provide flood forecasts. To minimize loss of lives and properties during flood, Bangladesh requested India to transmit more flood related data from further upstream stations on a continuous basis during the entire monsoon period.

On the Tipaimukh Dam Project, the Indian side reiterated its commitment that it would not take steps that might have adverse impact on Bangladesh. India also conveyed its earlier assurance that it would not take any unilateral decision on its proposed river inter-linking project that might affect Bangladesh.