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Former envoys of Indian, Bangladesh seek to strengthen ties

PTI 15 Nov 2014, 21:17:20 PM IST

Dhaka: Former diplomats of India and Bangladesh today appealed to both the governments to take a “holistic approach” in building national consensus to resolve all sensitive bilateral issues, infusing trust, amity and cooperation in their ties.

“We, the former high commissioners of India and Bangladesh... encourage the governments of Bangladesh and India to intensify their efforts to strengthen their relationship by taking a holistic approach in addressing bilateral issues and challenges,” a joint statement of former envoys, who had assembled in a two-day India-Bangladesh High Commissioners' Summit, said here.

The first ever summit, emphasised on building national consensus among the two countries to resolve all sensitive bilateral issues, was held at the Dhaka University.  Over 12 former high commissioners of both the countries, who have served in Dhaka and New Delhi in the last four decades, called for developing such a mechanism that will solve bilateral issues automatically through legal framework.  

The statement sought to infuse further the elements of “trust, amity and cooperation” as the two neighbours were determined to “strengthen their friendly relations”.  It said “deeper and effective communications” at the popular level through greater and comprehensive flow of information and contacts between students, academicians, print and electronic media, corporate sector, environmentalists and other stakeholders would “build enhanced level of awareness, mutual trust and confidence”.

The declaration also appealed both the governments to take a holistic approach in the exploration and utilisation of shared and other natural resources for mutual benefits.  Six former Bangladesh envoys to India and six of Indians in Dhaka, also formed an “alumni of high commissioners of Bangladesh and India” for regular biennial interactions to provide inputs to policymakers and other stakeholders.  

Department of International Relations and India-Bangladesh Foundation jointly organised the event, which was attended by a large number of retired and serving diplomats, noted economist, academics, media personalities and students.  

Inaugurating the summit, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said India-Bangladesh ties have withstood “the test of time,” setting a precedent for other regional countries to emulate.  

The sharing of waters in the common Teesta River and the Land Boundary Agreement are the two major outstanding issues in the bilateral ties while a proposed treaty over the river was postponed on the last minute in 2011 when former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Dhaka due to opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.  The two countries, however, signed a landmark Land Boundary Agreement in the same year but it still awaits the endorsement in Indian parliament.