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PM to meet Hasina, Rajapaksa on BIMSTEC sideline

03:36 PM Jun 01, 2019 | Free Press Journal Correspondant

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet the prime minister of Bangladesh and the president of Sri Lanka during the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) summit in the Myanmarese capital next week.

This will be prime minister’s first meeting with Sheikh Hasina post the Bangladesh general elections last month. India had solidly backed her government’s decision to hold polls as a necessary constitutional process when other countries, especially the United States, wanted a postponement.

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Bangladesh is an important element in the forward march of India’s Look East policy that aims at stronger economic and strategic linkages with Southeast Asia.

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Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said talks between the two prime ministers would be “comprehensive”.

Manmohan Singh would also meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The prime minister could not attend the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo last October due to domestic political opposition.

President Rajapaksa’s administration, meanwhile, has rejected the UN human rights chief’s call for an international inquiry into war crimes, saying it is “arbitrary, intrusive and of a political nature”. But the US plans to propose a resolution against Sri Lanka.

Asked about India’s approach, Foreign Secretary Sujatha singh said it is a “delicate issue” and depends on what the text of the resolution is.

“I don’t want to jump the gun.”

The prime minister could also meet Premier Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand and the newly appointed Prime Minister of Nepal Sushil Koirala.

Asked whether Yingluck would attend the summit given the political unrest in the country, Singh said it is premature to speculate about her presence. If she does not come, Singh added, her absence would not affect the summit as some other ministers could represent her.

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