Indian PM Ends Bangladesh Visit Without Key Deals

Posted September 7th, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concluded a visit to Bangladesh on Wednesday, with the two sides failing to sign agreements on key bilateral issues.

Mr. Singh and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed a deal the day before that demarcates the 4,000 kilometer border between their two nations, helping to settle a long-running border dispute.

But the Indian and Bangladeshi leaders failed to agree on a key deal to share water from the Teesta River, which runs between the two countries.

During a speech at Dhaka University Wednesday, Prime Minister Singh called India's inability to sign the water-sharing deal unfortunate. But the Indian leader said he has asked all concerned officials to intensify their efforts toward finding a viable solution that will not negatively impact those dependent on the river water.

Mr. Singh also tried to allay concerns about the proposed Tipaimukh dam in the Indian state of Manipur, saying India will not take steps that will adversely affect Bangladesh.

The two nations also failed to sign a deal allowing India to transport goods across Bangladeshi territory to some of its eastern states.

The visiting Indian prime minister also hailed the border agreement, which also allows for the exchange of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India.

Indian officials also agreed to grant duty-free access to 46 Bangladeshi products, mainly textiles.

The prime minister's two-day visit to Bangladesh was the first by an Indian leader since 1999.

The two countries have had trouble maintaining good ties despite India's help in Bangladesh's secession and independence from Pakistan in 1971. Relations soured after a 1975 military coup in Bangladesh and a series of low-level border clashes.

Prime Minister's Singh visit follows Ms. Hasina's trip to India last year.