Narinjara news


Dhaka, January 26


India-Bangladesh talks on gas pipeline unlikely during SAARC Summit


The issue surrounding the tri-partisan gas pipeline project is not on the agenda of a talk involving Indian and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers during the upcoming SAARC summit.


The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, a summit including the region's leaders, will be held in Dhaka on February 6-7.


India's Prime Minister Manmohon Singh is expected to talk with his Bangladeshi counterpart Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, on several bilateral issues during the SAARC summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


However the issue of the area's tri-partisan gas pipeline project didn't make it to the table, even though it is considered a serious issue between the two neighboring countries, sources said.


"I don't think that it has reached that stage," Bangladesh Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan on January 24 told reporters in his office.


The energy ministers of Bangladesh, India and Burma recently informally agreed to have the trans-border pipeline, meant to export gas from Burma to India through Bangladesh, in the three nation's energy meeting held on January 12-13, in Burma's capital of Rangoon.


Bangladesh said it would not sign the gas pipeline deal with India and Burma unless it has a bilateral agreement with India for the use of India's territory for trans-trade.


Bangladesh wants to import hydro-electricity from Nepal and Bhutan, which would necessitate crossing into India's territory and also hopes to use India's territory as a trade corridor to supply commodities between Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.


India's government does not currently allow its territory to be used as a trade corridor for Bangladesh.


The two neighboring countries need several talks to come to an agreement for the tri-partisan gas pipeline project, and the issue is unlikely disappear from the upcoming two country's summit.


"All bilateral issues would be further discussed with India in the upcoming SAARC summit," said the Bangladesh energy minister in a press conference on January 15, but the tri-partisan gas pipeline project is currently left off the table, one analyst said. #


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