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Khaleda Zia likely to visit India in Nov

“The matter is under consideration and we are working on possible dates. India’s High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran is going to meet Khaleda Zia this evening,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Tuesday.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Published: October 24, 2012 3:48 am

India is working to arrange a visit of Bangladesh’s former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia — currently the leader of the main opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party — next month,in an effort to reach out to diverse political groups in the neighbouring country.

“The matter is under consideration and we are working on possible dates. India’s High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran is going to meet Khaleda Zia this evening,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Tuesday.

A PTI report from Dhaka in the evening quoted Zia’s press secretary Maruf Kamal Sohel as saying that her visit had been finalised and that she would travel to India from November 28 and would have meetings with President Pranab Mukherjee,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi,External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj,among others.

Official sources here,however,said they cannot confirm the dates as yet since it was being worked out. They said the visit was likely to be at least for four days during which Zia was expected to travel to more than one city. The agenda of the meetings had also not been worked out as yet.

Sources said the visit would counter the ‘canard’ that the India’s diplomatic engagement and ‘comfort level’ was limited to the current Bangladesh government led by Sheikh Hasina. “Bangladesh is too important a country for India,and not just as a neighbour,” said an official source.

Zia’s visit comes at a time when India and Bangladesh are finding it hard to clinch a crucial water sharing pact over the Teesta despite the two sides having broadly agreed on a sharing arrangement,mainly because of a position taken by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who scuttled attempts to sign the agreement during the PM’s visit to Dhaka last year. Bangladesh is also going for general election in 2014,and within that country,there is a prevailing view that Zia could return to power especially if Hasina is unable to clinch the Teesta pact before that.

Incidentally,Zia has recently visited China as well,which was seen as a successful trip in the Bangladeshi political circles.

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