Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ready to fight neighbours for rights: Dipu

Bangladesh has friendly ties with its neighbours but that would not deter the government from taking legal recourse to claim its due, foreign minister Dipu Moni has said.

"Opposition parties can say many things but we will not stop from taking the legal route to achieve legitimate demands from our neighbours. It is not a weak foreign policy," Dipu Moni said on Tuesday while addressing a seminar on maritime boundary issues between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The event was held at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies auditorium.

The minister said Dhaka wants justice in maritime boundary disputes between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The two countries approached the International Tribunal for Law of the Seas (ITLOS) to settle maritime boundary dispute in 2009; the verdict is expected on Mar 14.

"We have been negotiating with our neighbours for the last 35 years but to get a quick result and ensure people's rights on sea resources, we resorted to (this) alternative route," she said.

"We expect justice from ITLOS and expect verdict in (an) Indian case in 2014," she said. "Bangladesh wants to resolve the disputes on equitable basis and there are many ways to get that."

Bangladesh has already submitted its claim for continental shelf to the UN and it takes five to seven years to get a decision from them, Moni said.

Continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain.

Foreign ministry's additional secretary Khurshid Alam said the government is not only sincere in establishing its rights over marine resources but is also taking the steps to explore it.

"We need to study oceanography is explore natural resources in the sea but unfortunately there is no university in Bangladesh teach that subject," he said.

He said the ministry has touched base with the education ministry in this regard and Dhaka and Chittagong universities have agreed to offer the subject.