Dhaka: Congress president Sonia
Gandhi on Sunday arrived here to receive Bangladesh`s highest
state honour awarded posthumously to her mother-in-law, Indian
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, for her outstanding contribution
to the country`s 1971 `Liberation War`.
Sonia, who is visiting Dhaka at the invitation of
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was warmly welcomed by Foreign
Minister Dipu Moni and ruling Awami League general secretary
and Local Government Minister Syed Ashraful Islam at the
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 8.50 pm local time.
Last week, the cabinet decided to confer posthumously
the country`s highest state honour, `Bangladesh Swadhinata
Sanmanona` on the assassinated Indian Prime Minister for her
outstanding contribution to the country`s independence.
She will receive the award on behalf of her
mother-in-law from President Zillur Rahman at a grand ceremony
in the presidential palace tomorrow.
The Congress leader will also be the chief guest at
the inaugural function of a five-day conference on `Autism
Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in
Bangladesh and South Asia` tomorrow.
The 24-hour visit, ahead of the official tour of Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh in September, is expected to boost
Indo-Bangla ties, which many believe is going through its best
phase in the last decade.
Hasina and Sonia are expected to discuss bilateral
issues, as the two neighbours move to deepen ties after the
formation of the Awami League-led government.
Moni earlier said Bangladesh was "looking forward to
the visit of Sonia Gandhi".
"She is a family member of Indira Gandhi who was our
great friend during our war for freedom, the President of
Congress and the chairperson of UPA," the Foreign Minister
Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
today said it expected the visit to strengthen bilateral ties.
"We expect Sonia Gandhi`s visit to cement further
Bangladesh-India relations," BNP`s acting secretary general
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters.