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EU ready to mediate between Govt and Oppn

Netherlands Development and Cooperation Minister Agnes Van Ardenne stated this while addressing the media.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 14:06 IST

The European Union, "if requested and needed", is ready to mediate to "bring the government and the Opposition parties to a constructive dialogue" and defuse tension for creating an election-friendly climate in Bangladesh.

Netherlands Development and Cooperation Minister Agnes Van Ardenne stated this while addressing the media before her departure on Thursday.

"European Union is behind constructive dialogue. We're mediating the rebel groups in Africa, so why not here."

"We offer our assistance, and if requested and needed, EU is ready to mediate to defuse tension and ensure fair and transparent election preparations," she said.

Agnes, who met with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition earlier on Thursday, said she encouraged both the leaders to sit for a dialogue to create free and transparent run-up so people could cast their vote without fear and intimidation.

Asked why development partners, including the Netherlands, are so concerned about the next elections in Bangladesh, she said, "We're extremely concerned because of confrontational politics."

"Election should take place in a friendly climate so that people do not feel threatened, intimidated and confused."

On her meeting with Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Agnes said she had requested the Prime Minister to start political dialogue with the Opposition parties, saying "it is important to listen to the Opposition proposals on caretaker government."

Expressing her happiness at the Opposition's return to parliament, the Dutch Minister said she also requested Opposition leader Sheikh Hasina to sit with the government and resolve the problems through dialogue instead of taking to street.

"I don't think the problems facing the political parties are very complex; these could be resolved through discussions as we do solve our water problems in our country," she told a questioner.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 14:06 IST