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Arnab
September 5, 2003, 06:08 AM
Bangladesh agrees to give immunity to US troops
Press Trust of India
Dhaka, September 4

Bangladesh has agreed not to try American military personnel committing any crime in that country and hand them over to the US, foreign ministry officials said on Thursday.

Foreign Secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said that an agreement to this effect was signed by Bangladesh ambassador to US Hasan Ahmed and a senior US official on August 17 in New York.

Refuting media reports that the deal was signed secretly, he said that the agreement came under the purview of International Criminal Court. Bangladesh was yet to ratify it, Chowdhury added.

Local daily Prothom Alo reported on Thursday that Bangladesh clandestinely reached such a deal following US Secretary of State Colin Powell's June visit to Bangladesh. It also alleged persistent pressure by Washington, including threats to stop all commercial transactions and financial assistance if it failed to sign the treaty.

US is the largest importer of Bangladesh's ready made garment sector which fetches over 70 per cent of country's annual export earning of nearly $7 billion. It is also a major provider of development funds and an important investor, especially in the hydrocarbon sector.

Under the agreement, US would assist in handing over Bangladeshi army personnel, serving abroad in any international peacekeeping force, and accused of criminal activities, to Bangladesh authorities