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Dhaka skips tri-nation talks on gas

Mizan Rahman
From Gulf Time
DHAKA: Bangladesh is not joining India and Myanmar in the talks on the proposed gas pipeline scheduled to be held in New Delhi yesterday as Dhaka said the invitation for the Delhi meeting came only on Tuesday.
Myanmar Energy Minister Lun Thi is in New Delhi to explore an alternative route in case Bangladesh does not join the $1bn project.

"We have informed Bangladesh about the proposed talks between India and Myanmar (on Wednesday), and through the Bangladesh High Commissioner forwarded an invitation to send an envoy to the talks," Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told reporters at a teleconference from Romania on Monday.

In case the Bangladesh envoy arrives, "We would convert the schedule to trilateral talks or we would have bilateral talks with Myanmar," said Aiyar.

Advisor to Energy Ministry and Board of Investment (BOI) executive chief Mahmudur Rahman told reporters that Indian High Commissioner Veena Sikri met him on Tuesday and inquired about Bangladesh’s participation in the meeting.

Rahman told Sikri, "Time is too short for attending Wednesday's meeting in New Delhi." Asked if Bangladesh is excluded from the tri-nation gas pipeline, he said, "If they could do without Bangladesh, let them do, good luck to them."

He said if India and Myanmar could find a better route for the gas pipeline, they would obviously go for that, but "If they feel that the route through Bangladesh will be better option, they will come to us. We're waiting for the outcome of bilateral negotiations between India and Myanmar."

In reply to a question, Rahman said he is waiting for official response from India regarding Bangladesh’s three-point proposal seemingly tagged with the tri-nation gas pipeline project.

Bangladesh wants India to first address issues like reduction of trade imbalance, providing corridor for Nepalese goods to Bangladeshi ports and access to hydroelectric potential in Bhutan.

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