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India wants a strong and stable Bangladesh
March 22, 2006 02:28 IST
India on Tuesday said it wanted to see Bangladesh "strong" and "stable" even as Dhaka opposed New Delhi's proposal to inter-link rivers saying it would cause "unmanageable economic and ecological consequences".
Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia also sought duty-free access to its goods in India, saying it would help narrow the widening trade gap between the two countries and "help us base our economic relations on an even more solid foundation".
"The fact that we share many common rivers imply that we should have a common approach towards sharing the waters of our common rivers," Zia said, while addressing a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in her honour.
She added: "Constructive engagement in result-oriented solution to water-related issues would certainly contribute to consolidating and strengthening the bilateral ties.
"We should also not allow the natural courses of our major rivers to be altered, as that would cause unmanageable economic and ecological consequences."
Describing the talks with Zia as an intensive and useful exchange of views on the full range of issues that are important in bilateral ties, Dr Singh said, "Our dialogue was most useful in understanding each other's point of view and in making progress on various issues".
He said it was in India's "fundamental interest" to see Bangladesh as a "strong, stable and economically strong" country making its full contribution to regional development.
Dr Singh said the agreements signed on Tuesday will provide the right framework for guiding and expanding economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.
Zia, who is on a three-day visit, said one of the foremost objectives of her trip has been to constructively contribute to promotion of trust, understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
"This spirit was adequately reflected in the formal discussions between our two sides earlier," she said.
Noting that Dhaka wanted to strengthen friendly ties with New Delhi, she said, "We owe it to ourselves to do our best to narrow down the differences."
She said Bangladesh was trying to deepen democracy and combat extremism and terrorism in order to ensure orderly progress and preserve the liberal ethos of its nationhood.
"Despite the odds and problems, the true Bangladeshi spirit will always prevail. I also assure you that in a vibrant, dynamic and forward-looking Bangladesh, you will always have a close friend, valuing your friendship and working hand in hand with you to actualise the true potentials of our relations," she said.
She added that the economic and social challenges before the two countries were very similar.
Noting that trade ties between the two countries have grown over the last three decades and Bangladesh was India's largest trading partner among SAARC countries, Zia said it spoke volumes about the important economic underpinning of the bilateral ties.
The Bangladesh prime minister said Dhaka would encourage trade-creating Indian investments in her country. She said the potential of bilateral cooperation in human resources development, science and technology, education, agriculture, people-to-people contact and such other areas are enormous and her country was eager to promote cooperation in these areas.