Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali says development of India’s north-eastern region would also benefit Bangladesh.
ultimately be a win-win situation for all of us,” Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told a
seminar in Dhaka on Saturday.
Bangladesh Itihash Sammilani, an
organisation of historians, organised the seminar on Bangladesh’s liberation war
1971 and the relations with north-eastern Indian states.
recalled the contribution of the north-east states to the cause of Bangladesh's
liberation in 1971 when he said 'millions of our people' took refuge in Tripura,
Meghalaya and Assam besides West Bengal.
He said lot of development took
place after the independence and “we are playing an important role in this
region’s economic development, peace and stability”.
Bangladesh’s steps on establishing more rail and road connectivity with the
Indian north-eastern states and said the region comes as “an important link of
connectivity” as part of Bangladesh’s plan to be bridge between South Asia and
South-East Asia and beyond”.
The proposed BCIM
(Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) economic corridor will pass through northeast
India after originating in Kolkata and passing through Bangladesh before it
enters Myanmar and finally China's Yunnan province.
corridor is felt to be a game-changer for the economy of all four
Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh had already requested India to
allow opening a Deputy High Commission in Guwahati and upgrade its Agartala Visa
Office to an Assistant High Commission to increase diplomatic and commercial
presence in the north-east.
He said there would be direct air link
between Dhaka and Guwahati soon.
“We need to complement India’s endeavour
to develop its north-eastern states in our own interest”.
He said the
development of north-east also has “an important security dimension which we
should not lose sight of”.
He also reminded that Bangladesh had already
contributed to north-east’s power sector development “by allowing transportation
of heavy equipment for Tripura’s Palatana Power Plant through our
Tripura's Left government in return agreed to supply 100MW of
electricity to Bangladesh from Palatana , which , Mahmood Ali, has now been
cleared by India.
“Once grid connectivity between the two countries is
established for this purpose, it will open up more opportunities for exchange of
power,” he said.
He said bridge over Feni river, rail connectivity
between Akhaura and Agartala and development of Ramgarah-Sabroom link were some
of the “small links in the bigger picture of an inter-connected region that we
This message, the foreign minister said, had been conveyed
during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Agartala in Jan 2012.
said Bangladesh also proposed direct bus services between Dhaka-Shillong and
Dhaka-Guwahati on the model of the Dhaka-Agartala bus service.
the “abundance” of natural resources in India’s north-east region has “huge
economic potentials that remained to be tapped”.
“Due to our geographical
contiguity, we are in the best position to do so,” he said.
natural resources and raw materials can be imported to Bangladesh for value
addition and re-exported to India or elsewhere.
“This is taking place but
needs to be done on a much larger scale,” he said.
He advised businessmen
of both sides to think about more investment in the region in different
The minister said Bangladesh attaches “highest importance” to
its relationship with India that he said was based on “historical, cultural,
linguistic, religious, ethnic and social ties”.
“India also recognises
that a stable and economically robust Bangladesh is in its own
He said this “mutual respect and understanding” of each
other’s concerns had put the relationship on “a solid