Dhaka, August 7:

Making it clear that India would go ahead with the fencing of the over 4000-km border with Bangladesh, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh today said this would help curb activities like smuggling and illegal migration and contribute to peace and tranquility.

“A strong fence is useful for both sides to achieve their common objectives for mutual benefit,” Singh, who is on a three-day visit, said in an interview to Bangla daily Jugantor.

Due to the porous nature of the borders, there was considerable cross-border criminal activity including illegal trade in arms and explosives, counterfeit currency, trafficking in narcotics, women and children, he said. “We have seen that in those areas where a fence is in place, there has been a sharp decline in illegal cross-border activities,” he said.

On the proposed gas pipeline between Myanmar and India via Bangladesh, Singh said Indian experts were examining the most efficient ways of importing gas from Myanmar.

“The gas pipeline through Bangladesh is one of the options being actively considered. This is a commercial project to be implemented by an international consortium,” he said.

Singh discussed the tri-nation project during talks with Bangladesh Finance Minister Saifur Rahman. Dhaka wants India to establish a direct road linking Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and address the issue of trade imbalance.

Asked whether the twice-deferred SAARC Summit, now slated to be held here in November, would be postponed, Rahman said the dates have already been announced.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “is eagerly looking forward to visiting Dhaka for the Summit,” he said.