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Dhaka likely to request Delhi to ratify 1974 treaty

By Haroon Habib

DHAKA, AUG. 20. Bangladesh is likely to request India to ratify the India-Bangladesh Land Agreement of 1974 for establishing a "legal basis" for a quick resolution to demarcate a 6.5 km stretch of the border.

The undemarcated stretch of the 4,096 km-long border with India runs along disputed Muhurirchar in Bangladesh's Feni and India's Tripura.

The Foreign Secretary, Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, was quoted by The Daily Star as telling journalists after an inter-ministerial meeting: "The agreement should be ratified and Bangladesh has done it. If it is not ratified there is no legal basis to solve outstanding land disputes."

The Foreign Minister, Morshed Khan, chaired the meeting on Wednesday which was also attended by the State Minister for Home, Lutfozzaman Babar, the Home Secretary, Omar Farooq, and the BDR Director General, Jahangir Alam Chowdhury. It was part of Dhaka's effort to push through a number of proposals to settle pending border issues with India, Mr. Khan said.

He explained that both sides differed on the interpretation of the treaty, but the process to ratify the agreement could be expedited through dialogue that would help both countries reach middle ground on the issue.

A timeframe was yet to be set for either sending the proposal or holding a dialogue, but Dhaka would look into opportunities for future high-level talks at various forums or on the sidelines of summits.

While Bangladesh has ratified the agreement, known as the Mujib-Indira Agreement of 1974, on November 9,1974, India has not done so.

Many experts say the unresolved border issues centre around the non-implementation of the treaty.

The treaty can only come into effect after both sides exchange the instrument of ratification.

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