B’desh and India begin river talks
* Two sides hoping to work out a long-term agreement on water sharing
DHAKA: India and Bangladesh began talks on Tuesday on how to share waters from seven common rivers, the first of two high-level meetings this week between the neighbours whose relations have been strained in recent years.
The Bangladesh-India Joint Commission of Experts was holding the water discussions, officials said. The two sides, which have at least 54 common rivers, are keen to work out a long-term agreement on water sharing.
The talks, led by the secretaries of each country’s water resources ministries, were the seventh set since the commission was formed in 1997 and are focusing on sharing waters from the Teesta and six other common rivers.
The water talks come ahead of discussions slated for Thursday between the two countries’ home secretaries. Bangladesh and India, which share a long, porous border, have historically enjoyed warm ties but these have come under strain following New Delhi’s allegations, denied by Dhaka, of anti-India insurgent camps in Bangladesh.
India charges that separatists stage hit-and-run attacks on targets in five revolt-hit northeastern states from up to 150 camps in Bangladesh. Dhaka denies that the country harbours any Indian militants. The issue of the alleged camps is expected to be raised at the Thursday meeting between the home secretaries.
Other issues expected to be on the agenda include alleged illegal immigration by Bangladeshis into India.
India backed Bangladesh in its 1971 war to gain independence from Pakistan but ties have seesawed since and worsened after Bangladeshis elected an Islamist-allied government in 2001 that New Delhi sees as favouring Pakistan. afp