Bangladesh for framework pact on transit

Dhaka: Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s September 6-7 visit here, Bangladesh today said it preferred a framework agreement on transit between the two sides instead of a revised Indian proposal for inking a protocol on using this country`s two seaports.

"Bangladesh has prepared a draft on a framework agreement on transit which is likely to be presented for discussion during the meeting of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and India`s Dr Manmohan Singh," a senior official familiar with the process told PTI preferring anonymity.

He said that the agreement could be signed if the two Prime Ministers agreed to it.

His comments came a day after the unscheduled visit of National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon here, his second such trip in five days, to review the last-minute preparations ahead of Singh`s September 6-7 tour.

Mass circulated `Prothom Alo` newspaper reported today quoting a "responsible source" that New Delhi last week sent a revised draft of a protocol seeking to use Bangladesh`s southeastern Chittagong and southwestern Mongla ports.

The source said Dhaka was unwilling to sign the protocol as the issues of transit routes and fees were yet to be settled while the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Communication and the Tariff Commission and Revenue Board earlier opposed the idea due to lack of preparedness.

"Due to practical reasons we need to sign a broad framework agreement first ahead of protocols detailing the nitty-gritty issues," Tariff Commission Chairman Mojibur Rahman, who was tasked to lead a committee to suggest transit fees, earlier told newsmen.

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