New Delhi reaches out to Bangladesh opposition leader (Lead)

April 24th, 2009 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 24 (IANS) India’s envoy to Bangladesh has met opposition leader Khaleda Zia to remove irritants caused by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s inability to meet her during a February visit.
Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty Thursday held a two-hour meeting with the former prime minister, the media reported Friday.

Mukherjee’s failure to call on Zia during his brief and hectic visit here in February was criticised by the media.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon’s trip to Dhaka earlier this month also came in for flak.

New Delhi has been criticised for displaying perceived proximity to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government as against that of Zia, who served two terms as prime minister (1991-96 and 2001-06).

New Age newspaper pointed out in an editorial this week that Mukherjee did not Zia but made it a point to meet Hasina when the latter was the leader of the opposition.

Speaking at a media briefing with Zia’s foreign affairs advisor Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, the Indian envoy said: “The leader of the opposition has an important role to play in parliament.”

Chakravarty said there was “nothing secret” about Menon’s visit, the United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency reported.

The envoy’s discussed with Zia developments in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka besides Myanmar with which Bangladesh has intermittent border problems.

Both sides agreed that relations between the two countries “should be very cooperative” and these would further improve if the outstanding problems between them were resolved, The Daily Star said Friday.

Chowdhury said that India believed that if a “stable and strong society builds up in Bangladesh, it would be good for all”.

The high commissioner expressed sorrow over the killing of 81 people, including 55 army officers, during a mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in February.

He termed his meeting with Khaleda “excellent” and said he had “productive talks”.

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