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Bangladesh rolls out red carpet for President Pranab

March 03, 2013 13:29 IST

Bangladesh on Sunday rolled out the red carpet for President Pranab Mukherjee who arrived in Dhaka on a three-day state visit to boost bilateral ties amidst a general strike called by Jamaat-e-Islami to protest conviction of its three top leaders for the 1971 war crimes.

President Zillur Rahman received Mukherjee at the VVIP lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Four Bangladeshi air force jets escorted as the special Air India aircraft entered the country's airspace carrying the president.

A 21-gun salute heralded his arrived as he disembarked from the aircraft.

Rahman escorted Mukherjee to a makeshift stage near the runway where he was given a guard of honour and the military band played the national anthems of both the countries.

The visit by Mukherjee, his first foreign tour since he took office seven months ago, takes place in the backdrop of spiralling violence by Jamaat-e-Islami, whose three leaders have been convicted by an international war crimes tribunal of genocide, rape and crimes against humanity during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971.

The visit by the President and his wife Suvra Mukherjee rides high on symbolism especially when Mukherjee receives Bangladesh's highest award from his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohammed Zillur Rahman on March 4 for his contribution to the independence of the country 

Symbolism apart, Mukherjee, during his interaction with the top leadership of Bangladesh, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will convey India's commitment to sort out unresolved issues, including Teesta river water-sharing and approval of land boundary agreement, with its eastern neighbour.

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

Opposition leader Khaleda Zia will also call on Mukherjee. The President will be conferred an honorary Doctorate of Law degree by the University of Dhaka at a special convocation.

On the concluding day of his tour, he will go to Bhadrabila village in Narail district of Bangladesh to visit the ancestral house of his in-laws.

He will also visit Shelaidah in Kusthia district where the family estate of Rabindranath Tagore is located and where the poet had written many of his memorable poems, short stories and essays.

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