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Northeast can help improve India-Bangladesh ties : Dipu Moni

former Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni
former Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni

Agartala, July 10 Tripura and other northeastern states can play a vital role to further improve relations between India and Bangladesh, former Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni has said here.

“There is vast scope of mutual investment in the resource rich northeastern states, which are geographically very close to Bangladesh. Northeastern states can play a key role in improving bilateral ties,” she said.

Moni, the chairman of Bangladesh parliament’s standing committee on foreign affairs, was addressing a conclave Wednesday evening on the scope and issues between northeastern region and neighbouring countries.

“It is a fact that the India and Bangladesh have made significant progress in tapping opportunities for mutual benefits but there are still some areas where attention needs to be given,” she said.

Moni said: “After a good beginning between the two nations, there was a halt for a brief period a few years back but now the two neighbours have been closely working together for mutual benefits.”

In her speech, she also referred to northeast India’s deep rooted relation with Bangladesh because of its contribution in the nine-month-long Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Other experts said using the “Look-East Policy” of the Indian government, northeast region can become a hub of economic activity and can play a role in improving relations with southeast Asian countries.

India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Abdul Matlab Ahmed said the Bangladesh government was also keen to boost trade and commerce with India’s northeast.

“There is enormous scope for investment by Bangladeshi businessmen in the rubber, fruit processing and bamboo sectors,” Ahmed said.

“Since these resources are found aplenty in Tripura and other northeastern states, businessmen from Bangladesh can easily invest in the region,” he said.

He, however, added that to achieve the goal both countries must come together to help investors and industrialists.

Alok Sen, former Indian ambassador to Myanmar, said: “As the Modi government seemed to have a firm policy direction, the closeness between northeast India and neighbouring countries might be improved using the extremely innovative ‘Look-East Policy’.”

He said the ‘Look-East Policy’ would be successful when the actual harnessing of northeast India’s resources and importance in context with the prospective neighbours started.

“Northeastern states, though resourceful, cannot do anything on their own unless they join with their neighbours. Political understanding is very vital for this purpose,” Sen said.

Jabin Jacob, a fellow of New Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies, said northeastern region can be an educational hub taking lessons from various provinces of China.

“Developing languages and culture could be vital tools for improving relations among neighbouring countries,” he added.

Tripura chief secretary S.K. Panda and US-based networking expert Saumen Sarkar were among others who spoke in the conclave.