Indian foreign secretary to visit Bangladesh on December 4

As political uncertainly gripped Bangladesh ahead of the January 5 general election, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is scheduled to visit the country on December 4 for bilateral consultations.

PTI| Updated: Dec 02, 2013, 23:38 PM IST

Dhaka: As political uncertainly gripped Bangladesh ahead of the January 5 general election, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is scheduled to visit the country on December 4 for bilateral consultations.

Singh will be in the country two days before UN Assistant Secretary Oscar Fernandez-Taranco begins his Bangladesh tour amid a standoff between the Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) over the polls.

Officials said her visit was arranged at short notice. Two unnamed senior officials of the Foreign Ministry confirmed her visit to Bdnews24 but did not specify her engagements.

"We are grappling to set her engagements as she will stay here only for one day. She will leave Dhaka on December 5," an official said.

"Of course, she will have bilateral consultations with our (Foreign) Secretary. But there will be meetings with politicians including the Prime Minister," another official said.

Observers here described Singh`s visit as a crucial development.
The BNP and its allies have organised a series of blockades and strikes to push their demand for postponing the polls. Widespread violence during the protests since October have claimed over 50 lives.

Violence escalated after the Election Commission announced the poll schedule last week and the BNP-led 18 party alliance called two back-to-back nationwide blockades.

The Awami League formed a multi-party interim government to oversee the polls but the BNP refused to join it and demanded the setting up a non-party caretaker set-up.

Diplomats, particularly those of Western countries, are trying to end the political stalemate.

Indian envoy Pankaj Saran recently told journalists that discussions on the political situation were being held "with different countries who have an interest in peace and stability" of Bangladesh.

US Assistant Secretary for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal recently visited Dhaka and met political leaders, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of Opposition Khaleda Zia.