Swaraj to meet Zia during Dhaka visit: BNP

Dhaka: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who will arrive here today in her first stand alone overseas tour, is expected to call on opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief Khaleda Zia, a party spokesman said.

“She is due to meet Begum Khaleda Zia on Friday morning ahead of her departure,” Zia’s press secretary Maruf Kamal Sohel told PTI.

His comments came hours after BNP’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam welcomed Swaraj’s Dhaka tour expecting it to play a crucial role in addressing border and water sharing issues between the two countries.

“Sushma Swaraj is a seasoned politician. We welcome her visit…the people of Bangladesh expect the two countries will move towards solving bilateral issues following her visit,” Fakhrul said at the party’s Naya Paltan headquarters.

Swaraj would arrive here later this evening on a three- day visit at the invitation of her Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali while she would also pay courtesy calls on President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Apart from holding talks with Ali, Swaraj will “meet other dignitaries”, join a press briefing and deliver a lecture on Dhaka-New Delhi ties at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

The BNP secretary general said after assuming power BJP pledged to boost bilateral relations among the SAARC countries while new Prime Minister Narendra Modi already visited a SAARC country and was sending Swaraj to Bangladesh today.

Dhaka-Delhi ties witnessed several ups and downs since Bangladesh’s 1971 emergence with crucial Indian help while the relation is said to have seen its lowest ebb during the 2001-2006 tenure of BNP-led four-party righting government with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being its major partner.

Hasina and Zia, in their mid and late 60s respectively, have alternated as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister since 1991 after the ouster of former military dictator HM Ershad.

Being the next-door neighbour and having over 4,000 kilometers of porous border with Bangladesh, India largely features in Bangladesh politics.

After the landslide victory of BJP, Zia sent a warm message to Modi greeting him for his landmark victory and expressing hope that his government would take proper initiatives to resolve the bilateral issues in transparent manner through dialogue.

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