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India offers $10 million for Bangladeshi landslide victims
June 22, 2007 13:52 IST
India has offered $10 million for the victims of a series of landslides in south-eastern Bangladesh that killed at least 123 people earlier this month, a foreign office spokesman said in Dhaka on Friday.
He said Prime Minister Manmohon Singh, in a letter to Chief Adviser of the interim government Fakhruddin Ahmed, expressed his deep sympathies for the affected people and offered the amount as an "immediate assistance."
The Indian gesture came as Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon is set to arrive in Dhaka on Sunday on a three-day trip, during which Dhaka and New Delhi are expected to sign an MoU to remove non-tariff barriers and restart secretary-level talks after an over two-year hiatus.
Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary-in-charge Touhid Hossain will lead the host side in the talks.
Foreign Affairs Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, following his meeting with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in New Delhi in April, promised regular secretary-level talks as part of a "new upward trajectory" in Dhaka-New Delhi relations.
Foreign ministry officials said an MoU between Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institutions and the Bureau of Indian Standards was also expected to be signed allowing BSTI to perform tests and certify Bangladeshi goods for export to India.
They said this would be an initial step to remove non-tariff barriers, a long-standing demand of Bangladesh to expand its market in India.
Bangladesh has also demanded the removal of para-tariff barriers, which raises the price of Bangladeshi exports in India due to Indian customs surcharges, additional charges, internal taxes and charges levied on imports, and decreed customs valuation, officials said in Dhaka.
The secretary-level talks, including Menon's call on the foreign affairs adviser, are expected to re-energise deals on joint border patrolling and border demarcation issues between Dhaka and New Delhi and kick-start the process of renewing and reviving a number of mechanisms to address some issues that "have been neglected over the past few years," they said.