New Delhi, Oct 26: Ahead of the elections in Bangladesh next year, India will host former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia for a week starting Sunday – part of New Delhi’s outreach attempt to engage the influential politician known for her anti-India posturing.
Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of opposition and chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), would be visiting India from Oct 28 to Nov 3, the external affairs ministry announced here Friday.
Zia is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee. She would also meet Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.
She is also expected to visit the Sufi shrine at Ajmer Sharif.
The series of high-level meetings India has arranged for Zia underlines New Delhi’s strong political will to sustain its relations with Bangladesh, which has recorded a marked upswing since Sheikh Hasina came to power over three years ago, in case of a change of regime in Dhaka next year.
“The visit is part of our ongoing engagement with a democratic and multi-party polity in Bangladesh,” the external affairs ministry said here.
“It would provide an opportunity to exchange views on all matters of mutual interest with a view to building upon the positive momentum in India-Bangladesh relations,” it said.
Zia last came to India on an official visit as the prime minister of Bangladesh in 2006.
The visit will be carefully watched here as India has had a tense relationship with Zia, who is known for anti-India stance and is even suspected of encouraging secessionist rebels from northeast India sheltering in the Bangladeshi territory.