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Indian foreign secretary begins maiden Bangladesh visit

IANS | Last Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 17:11

Dhaka: Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh arrived here Wednesday on her first visit to Bangladesh amid widespread violence across the country.

She is expected to discuss political crisis with the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties, Xinhua reported.

Shortly after arrival in Dhaka, she held a half-hour meeting with Bangladesh`s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and told reporters that she had a very good discussion.
Singh is scheduled to call on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

She is also scheduled to meet Jatiya Party chairman and former Bangladesh ruler H.M. Ershad, and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, also chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

This is her first visit to Bangladesh after taking over as foreign secretary in August this year.

Sujatha Singh`s visit came as Khaleda Zia`s main opposition alliance has continued blockade which triggered widespread violence, leaving nearly 50 people dead and hundreds injured since Nov 26 across the country.

The BNP and its allies are pushing for postponement of the parliamentary elections slated for Jan 5 next year.

Hasina`s ruling Bangladesh Awami League party has already formed an interim cabinet to oversee the poll. Despite that, the BNP and its allies have threatened to boycott the elections.

Ershad`s Jatiya Party, which was a key ally of the Awami League until last month, announced Tuesday that it won`t participate in the elections.

No poll aspirant from the BNP and its 17 allies, including Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party has submitted nomination papers. The deadline for submission of nomination papers was Dec 2.

Bangladesh opposition Monday extended its ongoing 72-hour nationwide blockade until Thursday evening to push for the postponement of the scheduled elections.

Clashes between opposition protestors and Awami League activists flared in many places Wednesday.

At least five passengers were reportedly killed and 50 injured when a train derailed after miscreants removed fish plates from rail tracks in Gaibandha, some 268 km from here, on the fifth day of the opposition-sponsored blockade of rail, road and waterways.

Nine people were killed on the fourth day of the blockade.

First Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 17:08
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