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Bangladesh PM scraps Pak tour because of 'schedule conflict'

November 15, 2012 21:30 IST

Bangladesh on Thursday said Premier Sheikh Hasina cancelled her planned visit to Pakistan next week because of "schedule conflict" as she has to join the country's Armed Forces Day celebrations.

"Sheikh Hasina will be unable to attend the D-8 Summit in Islamabad on November 22 because of a conflict in her schedule" despite her willingness, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement, two days after she scrapped her three-day Islamabad visit.

The statement said the premier's international affairs advisor Gawher Rizvi would represent her in the November 22 Summit of the Development-8, a grouping of eight Muslim nations.

"The PM had been very much looking forward to visiting Islamabad to attend the meeting of D8, of which she was one of the founder members, but the PM has a previous commitment to attend the Armed Forces Day celebrations in Dhaka on November 21 and that it would not be possible for her to arrive in Islamabad for the summit on the following day," it said.

The statement came as the announcement of cancellation of the planned Islamabad trip sparked wide media speculations --as Dhaka-Islamabad ties during the past four years of her government have virtually remained eventless.

The prime minister's press secretary Abul Kalam Azad earlier told the media that she would go to Islamabad on a three-day tour as Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar handed over an invitation letter from President Asif Ali Zardari.

Dhaka-Islamabad ties in the past four years was limited to a visit of Bangladesh's education and commerce ministers and parliamentary speaker to Islamabad and foreign secretary-level official consultations in November 2010.

The bilateral ties also witnessed strain two years ago when Bangladesh initiated a process to try its nationals who had joined hands with the Pakistani troops to carry out atrocities during the 1971 Liberation War.

The incumbent government has been demanding Islamabad's official apology for the Pakistani troops' atrocities during the War.

Anisur Rahman In Dhaka
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