In an effort to reach out to all sections of Bangladesh’s political landscape, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday held a meeting with Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairman Khaleda Zia in Dhaka.
BNP’s vice-chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, a former foreign secretary, told The Indian Express: “It was a nice and gracious gesture by the Indian External Affairs Minister to meet the people’s leader in Bangladesh, Begum Zia. There was a meeting of minds.”
He said the two leaders discussed the political situation and Zia conveyed that “democracy and stability” in Bangladesh are in India’s interest.
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There was much speculation in Dhaka whether the meeting with Zia would take place or not but she turned up at the hotel where Sushma was staying Friday morning.
Sushma also met the Leader of the Opposition in the Bangladesh parliament Raushan Ershad when she visited the parliament house.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “If I have to summarise the essence of the discussions which the Minister had with various visitors today, it is, that across the broad spectrum of the Bangladeshi society, there is a desire for India and Bangladesh to strengthen their relations and deepen their cooperation.”
When asked whether the Indian government will support the present government, he said, “The government works with other governments. As far as issues of a nature which are internal to Bangladesh are concerned, it is for the people of Bangladesh to address and resolve them.”
He described Swaraj’s visit, who left Dhaka Friday afternoon, as “fruitful and successful”.
Sushma started the day with a visit to the Dhakeshwari Temple. “I prayed for the prosperity of India and Bangladesh,” she told Hindu community leaders and devotees after offering the puja at the temple in the old part of Dhaka as part of her private schedule.