Hasina to go to Saudi Arabia on her first foreign visit as PM

April 20th, 2009 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 20 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave late Monday for Saudi Arabia on her first foreign visit since she took office in January.
Besides performing the Umrah, she will seek relaxation of restrictions on Saudi Arabia importing Bangladeshi manpower which is a major source of foreign remittances, media reports said.

High on her agenda is to seek Saudi “help” for the trial that her government wants to hold for the “war criminals” - those who collaborated with the erstwhile East Pakistan regime and engaged in murder, rape and loot of unarmed civilians during the 1971 freedom movement.

The “war criminals” belong to various Islamist political parties and groups who are perceived as being close to the Saudi royal regime.

There are over 1,500 war criminals, including the top brass of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

Hasina will hold bilateral talks on trade and investment with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, The Daily Star said Monday.

Her 35-member delegation includes sister Sheikh Rehana, son Sajeeb Wazed Joy, cousin Sheikh Rekha, Awami League (AL) presidium member Kazi Zafarullah, three cabinet ministers and two ministers of state.

Hasina’s Saudi visit was postponed twice, the last one in March following a mutiny by the border guard troopers in the outskirts of Dhaka Feb 25-26.

The government has held the Islamists and the proposed trial as the cause of the mutiny, saying the inspiration and help came from “outside forces”.

Both Hasina and her political rival, Khaleda Zia, keep visiting Saudi Arabia that is home to the seat of Islam.

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