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|June 15, 1998||
Hasina first leader to visit India since Pokhran-II
On the eve of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's day-long visit to New Delhi tomorrow, India today made it clear that there was no room for third-party involvement in its dialogue with Pakistan to resolve outstanding issues.
''There is no role for involvement or engagement of any third country or party for so-called facilitation, mediation or seeking to defuse perceived tensions'' in the subcontinent, an external affairs ministry spokesman said, replying to questions relating to Sheikh Hasina's visit.
The visit, he said, had nothing to do with Indo-Pak relations.
Sheikh Hasina will be the first foreign leader to visit New Delhi after India conducted nuclear tests in May.
The spokesman said Sheikh Hasina's visit was scheduled following an exchange of letters and a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. ''The visit will enable an exchange of views on a wide range of subjects of mutual interest and is a bilateral event taking place purely in the context of India-Bangladesh relations'', he added.
The spokesman noted that India and Bangladesh traditionally enjoyed good relations and there was frequent contact between the leadership of the two countries through letters, visit and phone calls.
Sheikh Hasina's visit was planned last Monday, when she rang up Vajpayee and expressed her desire to visit New Delhi.
According to official sources, Sheikh Hasina would hold extensive talks with Vajpayee tomorrow afternoon. This will be followed by a lunch to be hosted by the prime minister in her honour. She is expected to return to Dhaka in the evening.
The sources said the two sides would cover bilateral issues and international developments during their talks.
Sheikh Hasina had recently expressed her readiness to defuse the tension in the region following the nuclear tests carried out by India and Pakistan. However, India's consistent stand, which is well known to Bangladesh, has been that there is no room for a third party involvement in the dialogue between India and Pakistan.
The Bangladesh premier is also scheduled to visit Islamabad later this month to continue her dialogue with leaders of the region.
The external affairs spokesperson said that India will continue with its efforts to engage Pakistan in a ''broad-based and sustained dialogue'' to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.
The spokesman said India was committed to building peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan. India, he said, had made a sincere offer to Pakistan to resume the dialogue recently and ''our efforts in this direction will continue.''
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