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Delhi may ratify treaty with Dhaka soon

By Haroon Habib

DHAKA, JAN. 6. Despite an anti- Indian tirade being sponsored by an opposition alliance, the governments of both Bangladesh and India are likely to move for the settlement of various tricky issues to develop close relations.

Reliable sources here indicated that the recent visit of the Bangladeshi Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Mohammad Nasim, one of the key policy-makers of the Hasina government to Delhi and Calcutta, had paved the way for the resolution of several problems.

Mr. Nazim, who also holds the portfolio of Post and Telecommunications, visited India between December 20 and 27. He held talks with the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, and the Communications Minister, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan. He also had successful discussions with the leaders of the West Bengal Government, including the Chief Minister, Mr. Jyoti Basu.

One of the major issues that is likely to be settled shortly, is the implementation of the historic Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1974, which New Delhi is yet to ratify. Dhaka ratified it soon after the treaty was signed. Nasim told journalists on Tuesday that he had discussed the issue and requested India to ratify the treaty as soon as possible.

He said that India had promised to look into Bangladesh's proposal of handing over culprits sneaking into Calcutta and other parts of India, after committing crimes back home. This would include the convict in the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman murder case, Havildar Moslemuddin. The Minister explained that the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries would not pose a legal obstacle to the handing over of the culprits to Bangladesh by the Indian authorities.

Mr. Nasim disclosed that he had told his Indian counterpart categorically that Bangladesh would not allow the use of its soil by any international agencies (reportedly ISI of Pakistan) and Indian separatists to carry out subversive activities against India. The issue was raised by Mr. L. K. Advani during their recent meeting in Delhi.

To a question on the reported ULFA activities, he said that the issue of Mr. Anup Chetia, was discussed but India did not request the extradition of the Assamese separatist leader, who is imprisoned in Bangladesh.

The two countries discussed setting up microwave links between Brahmanbaria and Agartala of Tripura. India had agreed to provide financial and technical assistance to Bangladesh for developing its telecommunication sector.The two countries are likely to hold a secretary-level meeting this month, to settle all the tricky issues.

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