Four South Asian Nations to Allow Mutual Transit

Dhaka, Aug 9 (IANS): An exchange of letters by this year-end among four South Asian nations - India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan - will formalise arrangements that will allow transit into each others’ territories.

As part of this broad arrangement, aimed at regional economic integration, India will get access to its northeastern region through Bangladeshi territory, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has said.

She said no change in any agreements or protocol is required and a simple exchange of letters would suffice.

"We are thinking about transforming Bangladesh into a regional hub, and when the entire region will be brought under connectivity, India will have access to its northeastern states," Moni told media Sunday after a brief visit by Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The issue of transit has been "a bone of contention for long" between Bangladesh and India, The Daily Star said Monday.

During Mukherjee's visit, Bangladesh and India signed an agreement for $1 billion credit line, the highest-ever that Bangladesh has received from anywhere and also the highest India has committed at a single go to any country.

Moni said: "The $1 billion line of credit was taken for Bangladesh's interest, but India will also benefit. If the connectivity is in place, all will be benefited. It will be a win-win situation."

She said people should get rid of the negative thinking that only India will be benefited if roads and ports are developed.

"Bangladesh has been almost isolated regionally and globally, but we don't want to be isolated as the world is now moving fast, and countries around the world are connecting with each other for economic development," Moni said.

She said people and goods will move freely as soon as the connectivity is established.


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