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Territorial disputes

UN tribunal rules for Bangladesh in maritime border dispute with India

Bangladesh and India have welcomed the decision of a UN tribunal that established a new maritime border, ending a decades-long dispute. It's thought the ruling will allow more economic exploitation of the Bay of Bengal.

On Tuesday, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled on the disputed area of the Bay of Bengal, awarding the greater share of it to Bangladesh.

In its verdict, binding on both countries, the court awarded 19,467 square kilometers (7,516 square miles), from a total disputed area of 25,602, to India's smaller neighbor.

The ruling was welcomed by India, which said it paved the way for greater economic cooperation between the two countries.

Bangladesh declared the result a "win-win situation for the peoples of Bangladesh and India." The development is expected to open the way for Bangladesh to exploit of undersea resources and further develop its fishing industry.

"We commend India for its willingness to resolve this matter peacefully by legal means and for its acceptance of the tribunal's judgment," Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told a news conference on Tuesday.

The ruling means that Bangladesh will once again be eager to open up its waters for foreign companies to explore for hydrocarbons in the resource-rich sea. The maritime dispute is believed to have deterred firms from investing in the "sea blocks" being offered by Bangladesh.

In 2012, Bangladesh resolved a similar sea border dispute that had been a long standing point of contention with neighboring Myanmar, with a ruling made by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in Hamburg.

Bangladesh, with a population of 160 million and strong economic growth, has struggled with energy supplies in recent years.

rc/mkg (AFP, Reuters)