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India eyes close ties with Hasina's Bangladesh

Saubhadro Chatterji in New Delhi | January 02, 2009 08:52 IST

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'Bangladeshi soil will not be used for a terrorist act'

Immediately after the 'friendly' government led by Sheikh Hasina [Images] takes charge of Bangladesh next week, the United Progressive Alliance government may send a high-level delegation to Dhaka.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee [Images], who enjoys an excellent rapport with Hasina, will lead the delegation in the first formal high-level interaction with the new government of Bangladesh.

Although the Bangladeshi government is yet to officially invite Mukherjee, informal interactions have already started to finalise the schedule for the first official Indian visit to Dhaka under the new government.

Top sources in the external affairs ministry suggested the visit would be to a courtesy call to Hasina, an old friend of India who is set to assume power after a landslide victory in the recent elections. However, two major issues -- terrorism and cross-border trade and investment -- may also be discussed as the UPA government has just four months in office before facing the next Lok Sabha elections.

The Indian foreign office has categorically ruled out applying any pressure tactics on the new government for pursuing its agenda.

"We have to give Hasina some time to settle down. She already knows about our concerns. The new government would also have its own domestic agenda to fulfil. We are expecting close cooperation with the Bangladeshi government," a top source told Business Standard.

Hasina has already announced that she would not allow the Bangladeshi soil to be used by the jihadis against India, something that India also expects from Pakistan. But deportation of top United Liberation Front of Assam fugitives may not be an easy task for Hasina.

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