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Teesta water pact a difficult one: Manmohan tells Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday told his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina that a pact on sharing Teesta river waters was “difficult” even as an agreement was desirable in the interests of the two countries.

Manmohan Singh’s remarks came during a 25-minute meeting with Hasina on the margins of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Summit.

“The Bangladesh prime minister did raise the issue of Teesta. Our prime minister said: ‘It’s a difficult one, we’re trying to resolve it’,” Indian foreign office spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told journalists here.

Nevertheless, the Bangladesh prime minister expressed happiness that some 600 MW of power had started flowing from Tripura to her country, sending positive signals to her people on ties with India, the spokesperson added.

Manmohan Singh and Hasina were here in this capital city of Myanmar for the third BIMSTEC summit.

Besides India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, the seven-nation regional grouping comprises Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Earlier, Hasina told the Summit that she hoped to finalise a host of water pacts with India – a subject of dispute between the two countries for decades.

“Modalities need to be found for the sharing of water resources, especially of common waters,” the Bangladeshi prime minister said.

“As, for example, Bangladesh and India are sharing the waters of river Ganga with the signing of the 30-year-old Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, with others to follow soon,” she added.

As many as 54 rivers are shared by India and Bangladesh and tensions continue between them despite a Joint River Commission seeking solutions since 1972.

The most recent dispute has been over Teesta river originating in Sikkim, for which India was on the verge of signing a pact with Bangladesh but had to withdraw after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declined to give her nod.

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