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Take care of national interests, Zia to Hasina

Bangladesh's opposition leader Khaleda Zia extended cooperation but also cautioned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on "national interests" ahead of summit level talks with India.

world Updated: Jan 10, 2010 16:30 IST

Bangladesh's opposition leader Khaleda Zia on Sunday extended cooperation but also cautioned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on "national interests" ahead of summit level talks with India.

Professionals and analysts urged Hasina to "end mistrust" with India at a meeting held Saturday.

Hasina leaves on Sunday evening on a four-day visit to India -- her first since she swept the parliamentary polls and took office last year -- during which two agreements and three memoranda of understanding covering a wide range of issues are expected to be signed.

Criticised for 'prejudging' the visit's outcome and for threatening a mass agitation against the government, Zia sounded a conciliatory note by wishing her rival the best during her talks with the Indian leadership.

She said her party wanted to cooperate with the government "in the greater interest of the country".

"We are placing the expectation and aspiration of the people ahead of the prime minister's visit to India so that she can raise the issues boldly to uphold our national interest."

Hasina should elicit assurance from India about some important issues like water sharing, maritime boundary, trade and market extension for Bangladeshi products and permission for Bangladeshi TV channels in India.

"The visit won't be fruitful if these serious issues are not high on the agenda," Zia said.

Analysts expressed the hope that Hasina's visit to India would end existing "mistrust" and "non-cooperation" in resolving the problems in trade, maritime boundary, border management, regional connectivity and sharing river waters, The Daily Star said on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said: "We are eagerly looking forward to the visit of the prime minister, and I strongly believe it will enable us to build on the already solid foundation of our existing friendly relations with India."