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Cancellation of Begum Zia's planned call on with Mukherjee unfortunate: Moni

DHAKA, March 5, 2013 (BSS) - Foreign minister Dipu Moni today again called "unfortunate" BNP chief and opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia's scheduled meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee who is set to return home ending his three-day Bangladesh tour.

"I can just say this is unfortunate . . . it should not have happened," she told a crowded press conference at Hotel Ruposhi Bangla as asked by an Indian journalist if her decision was a breach of "protocol and courtesy" or disregard to the highest office of India.

But Moni was chased by a volley of questions on the issue with one foreign journalist asking her if Begum Zia's decision was a departure from "Bangladesh's democratic system".

Another Indian journalist recalled that the opposition leader herself invited Mukherjee during her India tour four months ago while she sought his schedule for the call on ahead of the Indian president's arrival in his maiden overseas tour.

"She sought the appointment . . . it was expected she will meet him," the foreign minister said and added that "not all parties in Bangladesh are similarly democratic".

Moni reviewed the entire gamut of Dhaka-New Delhi ties and reviewed the outstanding issues coinciding with Mukherjee's visit and reviewing his talks with Bangladesh leaders and said things were on progress as the two countries explored a number of new areas for mutual cooperation in the past four years.

Asked if the major two outstanding issues like the Teesta deal and ratification of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) could endanger the ruling Awami League's election to power for another term Moni said these two issues were not directly pointed out in the party's election manifesto.

"I don't think these issues have anything to do with Bangladesh's election . . . we have done what we could do in the past four years," she said but added that Dhaka expected the resolution of the issues soon as assured by the Indian leaders.

Asked for comments about media reports that India's main opposition BJP stood on the way of ratifying the LBA in the current parliament session Moni declined to comment on "India's internal politics" and preferred to rely upon what the Indian leadership told Bangladesh.

Replying to a question about speculations if the Shahbagh demonstration for 1971 war crimes trial was being used by the government for its political benefit, Moni said the youngsters
rallied there spontaneously reflecting the peoples aspirations and demand.

"It's (Shahbagh rally) politics but not any party politics .
. . we are a people's government for which our aspirations will be identical to the people's aspirations (and) we are aligned to their campaign," she said appreciating the peaceful demonstration for days together.

Replying to a question about the deadly violence over the war crimes trial, Moni said the counter protestors of the Jamaat- e-
Islami were not big in numbers but they were carrying out clandestine attacks on people, places of worships by the minority people and policemen.

She said police was compelled to use gunshots where they were trapped to be killed or to protect public life and property.

"Demands are there to ban Jamaat . . . we will definitely consider the demand," Moni said replying to another question.