The Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) of Bangladesh and India has ended its two-day deliberations without resolving the longstanding issues of border demarcation and exchange of enclaves and territories now under adverse possession.
Meeting after a gap of four years, the two sides on Monday agreed to talks once a year, expressing the hope that the next round of discussions would take place at an early date.
The Indian side placed a package formula for demarcating 6.5 km of undemarcated border mostly in their favour prior to resolving the other issues.
But the Bangladesh side did not accept it and asked for a comprehensive solution to all the issues, the Daily Star quoting 'highly placed' sources as saying.
The two sides agreed to hold the next JBWG meeting in New Delhi.
At a joint press briefing on Monday, the JBWG members, however, claimed to have had a positive discussion, saying they had decided to meet once a year and agreed to schedule a visit to the enclaves and adversely held territories to work out a solution.
Resumption of the JBWG talks after four years got the green signal from premiers of the two countries during Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's March 20-22 visit to India.
"The importance of the meeting lies in the fact that it is taking place after four years and in an excellent atmosphere. We were able to appreciate each other's point of view and tried to understand each other's position," said Mohan Kumar, joint secretary of India's ministry of external affairs.
While Mohan Kumar headed the 16-member Indian side, the 19-member Bangladesh delegation was led by joint secretary (political) Akhtar Ahmed.
There are three km of undemarcated border at Lathitila in Kulaura in Sylhet, two km at Muhurirchar in Porshuram, Feni and 1.5 km at Daikhata-Dumabari in Berubari in Lalmonirhat.
Although there are clear guidance rules in the Bangladesh-India Land Boundary Agreement signed on May 16, 1974, by the then Prime Ministers Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi for resolution of the problems, the dispute continues due to non-ratification of the agreement by India.
Bangladesh ratified the agreement through the third amendment to the constitution on Nov 28, 1974.
"The issues are a legacy of the past and are complex and difficult and it will be a mistake if anyone thinks these can be solved in six or 12 months," Mohan Kumar told reporters when asked about the long delay in settling the issues.
"What we've agreed to today is the beginning of a process which, we are hopeful, will lead to an eventual settlement of the issues," he said.