India, Bangladesh wrap up boundary talks

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NEW DELHI - India and Bangladesh Thursday wrapped up their fourth round of boundary talks by agreeing to resolve all pending issues in a pragmatic manner, including the more complex question of enclaves and adverse possessions in each other’s territories.

The fourth delegation-level meeting of the Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) was held between India’s T.S. Tirumurti, joint secretary in charge of Bangladesh in the external affairs ministry, and Bangladesh’s Kamal Uddin Ahmed, joint secretary (political) in the ministry of home affairs.

The meeting “discussed all outstanding issues pertaining to the land boundary in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, with a view to arriving at a comprehensive solution,” said a joint press statement after the two-day talks.

In an important step, both sides agreed to put in place all necessary arrangements, including infrastructure and security, promptly to allow allow 24-hour unfettered access through Tin Bigha Corridor to Bangladesh nationals.

The two sides agreed to work constructively to resolve differences to demarcate the land boundary in all three undemarcated segments: Daikhata-56, Lathitilla-Dumabari and Muhuri River (Belonia).

They also agreed to address the issues of enclaves and adverse possessions “in a pragmatic manner,” said the statement.

There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India. Both sides agreed to jointly take steps necessary to facilitate the process of exchange of these enclaves to their respective countries, said the joint statement.

Both sides agreed to take up the adverse possessions along Meghalaya-Bangladesh border on a priority basis. They reaffirmed that pending resolution of outstanding boundary issues, there should be no disturbance of the status quo and peaceful conditions shall be maintained in the border regions, said the statement.

The next round of boundary talks will be held in Dhaka.

“Besides the 6.5-km disputed boundary, there are undemarcated enclaves and adverse possession of land along the border with India and Bangladesh,” Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq A. Karim told IANS.

Five Indian states - West Bengal, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura - share a 4,095-km border with Bangladesh. This comprises 2,979 km of land border and 1,116 km of riverine border.

The meeting followed from an understanding reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajed “to comprehensively address all outstanding issues keeping in view the spirit of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement (LBA)”.

The boundary talks coincided with the visit of Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni to Tripura, a long-awaited trip aimed at bolstering cross-border trade.

After arriving in Tripura Wednesday, Moni stressed the urgent need to formulate a water-sharing policy, given that India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers, and called for India’s cooperation in the power sector.

India has assured that fencing work along the Indo-Bangladesh border will be completed by March 2012. The Indian Government has approved construction of border fencing over a length of 3,436 km.

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