Hold talks to settle differencesStaff Correspondent
Hillary asks parties as she meets Khaleda
The United States wants to see free, fair and participatory elections in Bangladesh and the political parties should settle differences through discussions in and outside parliament, the visiting US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton told the leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia on Saturday night.
Hillary made the suggestions in a meeting with Khaleda who explained Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s ongoing movement for restoration of the election-time caretaker government system.
Khaleda told Hillary that the BNP was committed to social and economic development based on national unity.
The two leaders had talks for around an hour at the BNP chief’s house in Gulshan.
After the meeting, BNP vice-chairman Shamsher Mubin Chowdhury told reporters that Hillary had wanted to know the political situation in Bangladesh and the BNP’s stance.
‘The US wants to see free, fair and acceptable elections in Bangladesh participated by all. The parties should find a way for a resolution in and outside parliament,’ Shamsher quoted Hillary to have said.
Shamsher said the BNP chief had told the US secretary of state that demands for restoration of the caretaker government system was now a prime issue in Bangladesh politics. ‘If the election is not held under a caretaker government, it would not be fair and impartial. Such elections will not be acceptable at home and abroad,’ Khaleda told Hillary.
Hillary expressed her concern over continued incidents of enforced disappearances and other human rights violations. ‘She told the BNP chief that she had raised the issue of disappearance of Ilias Ali in her talks with prime minister Sheikh Hasina and asked her to take steps to rescue him,’ Shamsher said.
Khaleda also referred to the government’s ‘oppression’ and ‘harassment’ of opposition leaders and told Hillary that the acting BNP secretary general was supposed to attend the meeting but could not do so because the government had filed a ‘false’ case against him. In response, Hillary commented, ‘This is really sad.’
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