Narinjara news

Road to Bangkok from Dhaka

Dhaka, 10 July 02: Bangladesh in South Asia and Thailand in Southeast Asia have agreed to develop air, land and sea links.

Agencies reported that the visiting Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra told to his counterpart Begum Khaleda Zia yesterday in the Prime Minister’s office, ‘Such links would open up exciting possibilities not only between the two countries, but also with other neighbouring nations including China.’

‘The two sides agreed to open a road link from Dhaka to Bangkok via Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh and Burma. This would be a part of the alternate Asian Highway that would link Dhaka not only to Rangoon and Bangkok but also to the members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’, reports the Daily Star.

The two sides agreed to hold dialogues on the proposed highway with Burma. The Bangladesh foreign secretary said that Burma had no objection in this regard since it had realised the importance of a common road to help people move freely and make progress in economic activities, reports the official news agency, BSS.

Shinawatra was also keen to start air services between Thailand’s second most important city Chiang Mai and Chittagong. He also called for expansion of sea routes saying, vessels could connect Thai cities on the Andaman coast to Chittagong and the Burmese port cities of Tavoy and Moulmein.

Khaleda Zia also hoped that Dhaka would be taken not only as a dialogue partner of ASEAN but also as a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The Thai premier will fly to Chiang Mai from Chittagong tomorrow.

‘The flight will be of an inaugural nature, and in future, an agreement would be worked out for regular Chittagong Chiang Mai commercial flights by Thai and Bangladesh carriers,’ Bangladeshi foreign secretary told newsmen. He also added that Chiang Mai is the most important business, tourist and medical hub in Thailand after Bangkok.

Responding to a question, he said cash-starved Burma will be in a position to build the missing road link for the proposed Dhaka Bangkok route, now that his country has asked the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to channel some of the excess funds to Rangoon for this purpose.

Last April the foreign ministers of Burma, Thailand and India met in a summit in Rangoon, agreeing to construct a major highway connecting the three countries. The ambitious Pan-Asia road if completed would link northern Thailand with India’s northeast through Burma. It was hoped that the roads would give Thailand and India access to an important deep-sea port on Burma’s coast.

Experts said that such multi-billion dollar scheme would remain a pipedream unless all the parties involved pump the money required to construct the high-in-hope highways. #