Delhi asks Dhaka to use defence loan

NRC India’s internal matter: Jaishankar

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 23:51, Aug 20,2019


Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar addresses a news briefing following a meeting at state guest house Jamuna in Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photo

Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Tuesday requested Bangladesh to utilise a line of credit extended by India for purchasing military equipment.  

He made the request in a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka. 

‘They requested [us] to use the memorandum of understanding signed on $500 million line of credit extended by India [to Bangladesh] for defence purchase,’ Momen told journalists at his office after the meeting.

‘We are yet to buy any thing under the defence MoU,’ Momen said, adding that the Armed Forces Division was working on the matter. 

The MoU was signed during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in April 2017 on the $500 million Indian loan for buying military equipment under suppliers credit system.

India also sought exemption of taxes and vat on the imports by Bangladesh from it for the projects implemented with Indian funds, Momen said. 

The issues of crackdown on Jammu and Kashmir by Indian authorities and the alleged irregularities in the state of citizenship of four million Indian nationals who were out of the National Register of Citizens ‘were not discussed,’ in the meeting, he said.

The Indian side reiterated a proposal for allowing armed sky marshals on board for Indian airlines while flying to and from Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh side asked India to bring down to zero the number of deaths along the borders of the two countries, according to Momen, and got a reiteration of the assurance by the Indian minister ‘to see the matter with importance.’ 

Bangladesh also sought removal of barriers in accepting a mechanism for common standards of exportable products for increasing trade with certification of the Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution and the Bureau of Indian Standards as both the organisations are members of the Asian Standard Testing Union. 

Bangladesh emphasised speedy release of funds by India for projects being carried out with loans from the country. 

The two sides also discussed removal of anti-dumping duty imposed on exporting Bangladesh jute to India and establishing a tri-nation energy grid involving Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

Replying to a question during a joint press briefing after the meeting, Jaishankar said that the issue of persons who were out of the National Register of Citizens ‘is internal matter of India.’

On water sharing issues, he said that the two countries agreed to reach a mutually beneficial formula on sharing water of common rivers.

On the matter of signing of an agreement on sharing Teesta River flows, Jaishankar said that there was a commitment by India. ‘India stands by its commitment.’

Jaishankar avoided a question on the Kashmir situation.

Momen told journalists later that the Kashmir ‘is an internal issue of India.’

The two ministers said that they were working on a programme for prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India for participation of India Summit in October.

The Indian minister visited the Bangabandhu Museum on Tuesday morning and called on prime minister Hasina at her Ganabhaban residence in the afternoon.

Jaishankar, who reached Dhaka on Monday evening, is set to leave Dhaka on Wednesday morning concluding his visit, the first after he became India’s external affairs minister.

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