'India committed to early conclusion of Teesta deal'
Posted on: 01:06 AM IST Mar 04, 2013
Dhaka: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday conveyed to the top Bangladesh leadership India's commitment to an early conclusion of Teesta river water-sharing deal and implementing the land boundary agreement as he sought to give a substantive content to bilateral ties on his maiden overseas visit since assuming the top constitutional post in 2012.
During his nearly half-an-hour one-on-one meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and later delegation-level talks, Mukherjee articulated India's determination for early signing of the Teesta river water-sharing agreement which had run aground following West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's strong opposition to it in September, 2011.
Earlier, Mukherjee, 77, on his first foreign visit as President, received red carpet welcome at the airport. Four Bangladeshi air force jets escorted as the special Air India plane entered the country's airspace carrying the President.
President Zillur Rahman received him at the VVIP lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. A 21-gun salute heralded his arrived as he disembarked from the aircraft. He was given a guard of honour and the military band played the national anthems of both the countries.
However, Mukherjee's three-day state visit came under a shadow as opposition leader Khaleda Zia cancelled her meeting with him amidst a general strike by Jamaat-e-Islami to protest conviction of its three top leaders for 1971 war crimes. The violence following latest verdict has claimed nearly 80 lives.
Briefing the media about the Mukherjee-Hasina talks, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that the President conveyed India's resolve to work out a "fair, reasonable and equitable" sharing of Teesta water.
He said there was a need for an agreement among all stake-holders, including the West Bengal government, on the Teesta issue.
The President, according to Mathai, told the Bangladeshi leaders, who also included Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Finance Minister AMA Muhith, that he has asked the Indian government to prepare a constitution amendment bill for parliamentary approval to operationalise the 1974 land boundary agreement and exchange of 161 adversely-held enclaves, which has been a sticking point in bilateral ties for decades.