The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi puts Dhaka on hold

New Delhi, Oct. 10: India is yet to give the nod for the Bangladesh foreign minister's proposed visit to Delhi later this month.

Morshed Khan had expressed his desire to come here on October 24 to invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka for the Saarc summit scheduled for early January.

The proposal for Morshed's visit has been lying with South Block for some time now. On the face of it, Bangladesh may be told that the proposed dates are not convenient as foreign minister K. Natwar Singh and the Prime Minister will be busy with prior engagements.

But Delhi may suggest alternative dates to ensure its relations with Dhaka do not nosedive further. The final word will be that of Natwar Singh, who recently met Morshed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The yearly foreign office consultation is scheduled for November 8 and 9 in Delhi. A growing view is that Bangladesh's mood be gauged at the meeting before accepting Morshed's visit.

But some officials ' referring to last year's snub to Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri ' are arguing whether a precedent should be set where foreign ministers will go around inviting each member individually for the Saarc summit.

They pointed out that last year when Kasuri wanted to visit Delhi to invite then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the summit, India made it clear it was not in favour of his visit.

A section of the foreign ministry establishment has still not forgiven Morshed for recently accusing Delhi of a 'big brotherly' attitude towards Dhaka.

Delhi is also unhappy with Dhaka's response to repeated alerts about the existence of camps of northeastern militants in Bangladesh. A finger was pointed at these camps after the recent militant strikes in Nagaland and Assam early this month.


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