Fair, early solution to Teesta water issue, Pranab assures Hasina

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 03, 2013 16:56 hrs

Dhaka: Visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina here Sunday, assured her that India is committed to "a fair, reasonable solution" to the sharing of Teesta waters and discussions with different stakeholders would be concluded as early as possible.

Mukherjee, who arrived here Sunday afternoon, held "restricted level" one-on-one talks for over half an hour with Hasina in the evening during which the contentious Teesta agreement and the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement also figured.

Briefing media persons later, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that though the presidential visit was "not designed for negotiations on specific issues", the two issues figured prominently in the talks.

The president conveyed to the Bangladesh prime minister that "discussions have to be held with all stakeholders in India", including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has protested the proposed water sharing agreement on the ground that it would affect her state.

The process of discussions will continue and the president underlined the government's commitment to seek this kind of a solution "in as early a time frame as possible".

"During state visits, bilateral matters are not held", but due to his long experience in India-Bangladesh ties during his stint as minister, Mukherjee conveyed India's commitment to early ratification of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and the protocol that was inked in 2011, he said.

Mathai clarified that there was "no specific negotiations on the agreement itself".

Trinamool Congress MP Mukul Roy is part of the delegation besides three other MPs, including Communist Party of India-Marxist's Sitaram Yechury and Bharatiya Janata Party's Chandan Mitra.

The MPs are all Bengali-speaking, which helped in the delegation talks held between Mukherjee and Hasina as well as when Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith called separately on him at the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon where he is staying.

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