Bangladesh, India welcome court's ruling on sea border

DHAKA - Bangladesh and India on Tuesday welcomed an international court ruling which established their new sea border, ending a decades-long dispute over the resource-rich area.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali hailed the ruling announced Tuesday by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague as a "victory and a win-win situation for both sides".

The court drew a new maritime border that awarded Bangladesh 19,467 square kilometres of sea area out of a total disputed area of 25,602 square kilometres, the minister told reporters.

"It finally resolves peacefully and in accordance with international law a problem that had hampered the economic development of both states for more than three decades," he said in Dhaka.

The minister said the ruling would enable Bangladesh to push ahead with exploring for gas and other resources in the Bay of Bengal, and also allow its fishing industry to flourish.

India also hailed the decision, saying it paved the way for further economic development between the two countries.

"We believe that the settlement of the maritime boundary will further enhance mutual understanding and goodwill between India and Bangladesh by bringing to closure a long-pending issue," said foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

Bangladesh in 2012 resolved a sea border dispute with Myanmar which had been a frequent flashpoint between the two nations.

The maritime disputes had almost dashed Bangladesh's plan to invite foreign companies to explore for hydrocarbons in the resource-rich Bay of Bengal after Myanmar and India objected to some of the sea blocks being offered.

Although Bangladesh's energy ministry later redrew some of the blocks, it only attracted limited interest from foreign firms largely due to the disputes.