Indian survey ships leave Bangladesh waters

December 28, 2008

Foreign ministry summons Indian high commissioner
Staff Correspondent
Indian survey vessels, which Thursday night entered the Bangladesh waters in the Bay of Bengal left the area Saturday evening, said a release issued by the Inter Service Public Relations.
‘The three ships have moved towards west leaving the Bangladesh waters and now they are doing survey in the Indian territories in the west of the Bangladesh waters,’ the release said.
Earlier in the morning, the Indian high commissioner in Dhaka, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, told reporters, ‘The ships have their own work, and they will do whatever work they have and then move out soon.’
Chakravarty made the comment after a meeting after he had been summoned to the foreign ministry.
The government on Saturday summoned him to the foreign ministry to lodge a protest against India’s hydrocarbon exploration in the Bay, intruding Bangladesh’s territorial waters.
The foreign secretary, Touhid Hossain, handed the formal protest note over to the Indian diplomat urging stopping any survey until the maritime delimitation issue was resolved on a mutual agreement and taking back Indian vessels from the Bangladesh waters.
Touhid told reporters he hoped India would stop hydrocarbon exploration and leave the area in the Bay.
He said the Indian high commissioner had proposed that Bangladesh should send a technical team to India as soon as possible to discuss the maritime issue as the two countries started talks on delimitation of the maritime boundary in September after a gap of 22 years.
Pinak said the survey ships were not Indian. He said they were Jamaican ships chartered by a private company having licence from the Indian government to conduct the survey.
Pinak observed this was an overlapping zone and both India and Bangladesh claim to the zone.
Asked how the survey could be conducted in the disputed zone, he said, ‘Bangladesh has offered this area for international bidding knowing full well there were overlapping claims. When negotiations are on, why did the Bangladesh government put out to international bidding?’
The Indian high commissioner said, ‘We want a Bangladesh team to go to Delhi to sort out the issues. The overlapping claims will, otherwise, remain and ships from both sides will come.’
The foreign secretary said the proposal for discussion was ‘positive’ and Bangladesh would send the technical team to Delhi towards the end of January at the earliest. But no date for the meeting has been proposed.
A Bangladesh navy vessel which earlier spotted the Indian survey ship during patrol asked the survey ship to leave the Bangladesh waters.
While the survey ship initially moved towards Indian waters, they returned to its earlier location where they were again positioned in the afternoon of December 25.


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