Khaleda Zia’s visit to boost ties: India

India said on Friday that the forthcoming visit of Opposition Leader and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to New Delhi would provide an opportunity to exchange views on all matters of mutual interest ‘with a view to building upon the positive momentum’ in relations between the two countries.

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Khaleda’s visit is “part of our ongoing engagement with a democratic and multiparty policy in Bangladesh,” said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman of India’s external affairs ministry, reports The Daily Star.

“It would provide an opportunity to exchange views on all matters of mutual interest with a view to building upon the positive momentum in India-Bangladesh relations,” he said in response to a question from the media.

He said Khaleda, a former prime minister, will be visiting India at the invitation of the Indian external affairs minister from October 28 to November 3.

During her stay, she is scheduled to call on Indian President Pranab Mukherjeee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, the spokesman said.

The announcement made by Akbaruddin makes no mention of Khaleda’s meeting with ruling Congress Party Chief and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Sources in India said a meeting between the two is unlikely.

Khaleda’s meeting with President Mukherjee is expected on Sunday evening, a few hours after her arrival from Dhaka. She is likely to meet Prime Minister Singh on Monday (October 29) and other Indian leaders subsequently.

Khaleda is also expected to visit Ajmer Sharif, where she would travel by road on November 3, before returning to New Delhi the next day and going back to Dhaka the same day.

The BNP chairperson’s last official visit to India was in 2006 when she was the prime minister of Bangladesh.

Sources said the main thrust of Indian leaders’ interactions with Khaleda would be to continue the stress on sustaining the dynamism and momentum the relations between India and Bangladesh received in the last four years through a series of decisions and agreements signed during the visits of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi in January, 2010 and Indian Prime Minister Singh to Dhaka in September last year.

India is expected to convey to Khaleda that it is ready to work with any government democratically elected by the people of Bangladesh and what is important is to sustain the momentum in bilateral ties in a range of sectors—connectivity, trade, power, water-sharing and security.

The BNP chief, who arrives here on Sunday afternoon by a Jet Airways flight, is expected to meet the media after wrapping up her talks with Indian leaders.

News Source: 
The Daily Star