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Bangla bonhomie

Farid Hossain
From The Telegraph, India
August 7, 2005
link to this article.

India and Bangladesh will step up efforts to maintain peace along the border and stop illegal migration, foreign minister K. Natwar Singh said today.

After two-hour talks with Bangladesh counterpart M. Morshed Khan, Singh said the neighbours had agreed to hold a high-level meeting to discuss unauthorised crossovers along the 4,500-km frontier.

India claims insurgents from northeastern states cross into Bangladesh to attend training camps reportedly run on its soil. Bangladesh insists it does not shelter rebels or allow its territory to be used against its neighbours. It also denies its citizens illegally cross into India.

The two ministers appeared before the press after their talks at state guest house Padma, but did not take queries from journalists.

Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran said the two had discussed signing an extradition treaty, but there was no breakthrough yet.

India has long been urging Bangladesh to extradite Ulfa leader Anup Chetia who has stayed on in that country after serving his jail term. Bangladesh says he can't be extradited without a treaty.

The two sides also discussed the proposed pipeline that would allow India to transport natural gas from Myanmar through Bangladesh territory.

"We have agreed to work together to realise our common destiny. We have committed to strengthening our relations through dialogue based on mutual friendship, trust and understanding," Singh said in a written statement.

He said there had been a detailed and wide-ranging exchange of views on issues of mutual interest and "differences of opinion as well".

Sources said India had informed Bangladesh it was seeking a permanent seat in the Security Council. It was unclear if any formal support was sought.

In a statement on arrival at Zia International Airport, Singh said India "attaches the highest importance to its relations with Bangladesh".

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