Bangladesh won’t withdraw maritime case against India: FM

Bangladesh filed the case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in Hague and the verdict on the case is expected in 2014.

‘’There’s no question of withdrawing our case and sitting for bilateral negotiations with India,’’ she told a correspondent at a press briefing on the Bangladesh’s win in the maritime case against Myanmar.

Explaining Bangladesh’s position with India, Dipu Moni said the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) through its verdict on the case against Myanmar has set certain principles regarding the demarcation of the maritime boundary.

She said the discussion with India may take place on the basis of the ITLOS principles ensuring Bangladesh’s legitimate rights alongside pursuing the case.

The Foreign Minister categorically said there is no scope of withdrawing the case and sitting across the table for a negotiated settlement. She said Bangladesh went to the international arbitration after the bilateral negotiations over the decades failed. In reply to a question, Dipu Moni said Bangladesh will create oil and gas blocks within the Bangladesh’s maritime boundary determined by the ITLOS verdict.

To another question, she said the government has already taken some steps to strengthen the naval force and will do whatever necessary to safeguard the country’s maritime territory.

On March 14, the ITLOS in its judgment recognised Bangladesh’s claims to a full 200-NM Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) beyond 200 nautical miles.

The Tribunal also awarded Bangladesh a full 12-NM territorial sea around St. Martin’s Island, overruling Myanmar’s argument that it should be cut in half.

The Foreign Minister termed the verdict historic and win-win for both Bangladesh and Myanmar. ‘’ We’ve go what we wanted,’’ she reiterated.

Additional Secretary (UNCLOS) Rear Admiral (retd) Khurshed Alam who was the deputy agent of the case against Myanmar said oil and gas blocks earlier created in the Bay of Bengal without demarcation of the country’s maritime boundary.

He said now Petrobangla and other authorities concerned can create blocks in the Bay of Bengal since the boundary with Myanmar has been finalised.

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