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Security tops Foreign Secy’s agenda

india Updated: Jun 25, 2007 04:35 IST
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
Hindustan Times
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When Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon visits Dhaka on June 25-26 for the first set of bilateral Foreign Office Consultations in over two years and the first since the Caretaker Administration (CA) assumed charge there, he will remind the officials of the need to begin delivering on promises.

He is scheduled to raise India's concerns about security, terrorism and cross-border immigration during his meetings with his counterpart Touhid Hossain.

Menon visited Kolkata for a day on Saturday before his visit to Dhaka to urge the West Bengal government to fulfill its commitments and firm up security measures along its porous borders.

During the initial months of the CA, India was pleasantly surprised at the crackdown not only on corruption but also on terrorist organisations and Al Qaeda affiliates, like Harkat ul Jehad Islami (HuJI) and Jagrata Mussalman Bangladesh, and by the hanging of six leading terrorist figures including ‘Bangla Bhai.’

A variety of statements and some action taken on the ground suggested closer cooperation with India and a desire by the administration in Dhaka to take New Delhi’s concerns on board, a former Indian envoy to Bangladesh said.

But the initial momentum appears to be flagging, the former envoy said, forcing India to seek this high-level official meeting.

India, officials claim, took the first step by allowing duty-free access of goods from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) within SAARC to India.

And now, it expects Bangladesh to deliver on its offers of cooperation, particularly on leaders of insurgent groups like Paresh Barua and Anup Chetia, holed up in that country, a senior official said.

The CA’s law adviser Mainul Hossein told a UN counter-terrorism team — which recently visited the country to review the government's anti-terrorism initiatives — that Dhaka was trying to organise itself as a "fortress against terrorism".

Bangladesh’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, had told HT that his government would not permit acts “inimical to India” being committed in Bangladesh.