Still time for land swap agreement, PM assured Hasina

On Board Air India One, Oct 1 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday he had assured his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina that there was "still time" and the government would make every effort to try and convince the opposition parties to agree to ratify the land boundary and Teesta agreements.

Speaking on board the special aircraft on his return to India from the US, the prime minister also said he could not meet Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New York because the dates the latter had asked for were not "convenient".

Manmohan Singh said India's relations with the Bangladesh prime minister, who he met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, are "very good".

"I am myself disappointed that it has taken us much too long to ratify the agreement and I have assured her that we still have time. In the next session of parliament we will make every effort to convince our opposition parties who have been a problem up till now to fall in line," he said.

The constitutional amendment on ratifying the Land Boundary Agreement on exchange of enclaves could not be ratified in the monsoon session of parliament after the BJP declined to back it.

To another question on not meeting the Sri Lankan president in New York, he said: "As regards the meeting with President Rajapaksa, I would have no hesitation in meeting with him. He asked for a meeting on dates which were not convenient to me, because I came to New York only on the 27th and he asked for a meeting between 24th and 27th. So the meeting could not be arranged. There is no other reason."

He also said that regarding devolution of more powers for the Northern Province in Sri Lanka India's views "are well known. On umpteen number of occasions, we have discussed with the Sri Lankan president the need to implement the 13th Amendment. Therefore, our position is fully well known to the government of Sri Lanka," he said.

In the elections to the Northern Province held last month, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) swept the polls.

--IANS (Posted on 01-10-2013)

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