India will get access to its landlocked seven north-eastern States through Bangladesh, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has said.
“Unfettered movement of people and goods will be taking place,” she said at a press conference here on Sunday, a day after the visit of Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Dhaka was thinking about transforming Bangladesh into a regional hub. “When the entire region will be brought under connectivity, India will surely have access to its north-eastern States.”
Rejecting the Opposition's criticism, Ms. Moni said the transit facilities given to India would bring economic benefits to Bangladesh too. “We cannot remain isolated for long.”
Asked whether the projects lined up for implementation with the $1-billion credit from India would only serve Indian interests, she said: “We need to come out of the anti-India mindset.” “If connectivity is in place, all will get the benefit. It will be a win-win situation.”
She also urged the Opposition to shed the “negative thinking” that road and port development would only benefit India. Improved rail links would benefit both Bangladesh and India's eastern region.
Ms. Moni said that not only trucks from Nepal would have access to the Banglabandha land port in Bangladesh; Bangladeshi trucks would also have access to Nepal through India. This would be done through an exchange of letters, instead of any protocol.
Dhaka had given its consent for laying the cross-boundary rail tracks. “Yes, people from West Bengal will be able to reach the northeast. We will also be able to go to the northeast directly,” she said in answer to a question whether the proposed railway projects would enable the Indian nationals to reach the north-east through Bangladesh. “We are working to ensure free flow of people and products in the whole region, including Bhutan and Nepal.”
Ms. Moni criticised the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party for making confusing statements on the loan deal. The interest, she said, was lower than the rates of loan offered by other donors.