Pranab Mukherjee to pay state visit to Bangladesh

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Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that the President’s visit will provide an opportunity to take bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh to a new height. File Photo

New Delhi, Mar 1 (PTI): Seeking to convey India’s commitment to sort out unresolved issues with its eastern neighbour, President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a three-day state visit to Bangladesh from March 3.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said Mukherjee’s visit “is not designed to engage in political negotiations. What the President will convey to the top Bangladesh leadership the Indian government’s commitment to take bilateral relations to a higher level and to resolve unresolved issues”.

“The President’s visit will provide an opportunity to take bilateral relations to a new height”, he said.

Asked if it would be prudent for the President to visit Bangladesh at a time when the country has been rocked by waves of violence following the death sentence to a top Jamaat-e-Islami leader there, Mathai said “we have done a great deal of preparation for the visit. We feel it would be appropriate to carry on with the visit.”

According to the Foreign Secretary, the situation in Dhaka is “calm and we are looking forward to a productive visit”.

“We are looking at the situation (in Bangladesh) arising out of a legal process as also in the backdrop of an upsurge in Bangladesh”, he said.

He was apparently referring to to the violence unleashed by activists of Jamaat and its militant student outfit Islamic Chhatra Shivir across Bangladesh on one hand and the massive protests in Dhaka demanding death penalty for Jamaat leaders who had collaborated with occupation Pakistani troops during Bangladesh liberation war.

Mathai said Mukherjee’s visit was “reflective of the highest importance attached by India to its relations with Bangladesh”.

President Mukherjee, who will be accompanied by his wife Suvra Mukherjee, Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Choudhury and four lawmakers besides senior officials, will have talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Md Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia among others during his visit.

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