Bangladesh ex-PM meets former US congressman

Updated on May 12, 2007 12:13 PM IST
Begum Khaleda Zia held talks with a visiting former US Congressman, her first trip outside her home in more than a fortnight.
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Reuters | By, Dhaka

Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia held talks with a visiting former US Congressman, her first trip outside her home in more than a fortnight, after criticism that the government had restricted her movements.

Khaleda avoided any comment after her dinner meeting with congressman Gregory Laughlin on Friday at the home of a senior leader of her Bangladesh Nationalist Party in Dhaka.

Laughlin said the current situation in the country was discussed, but did not elaborate.

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January, imposed in the wake of widespread political violence. An election planned for Jan. 22 was also cancelled and all political activity banned.

The army-backed interim administration has detained scores of politicians including Khaleda's son Tareque Rahman in an anti-graft hunt.
Media reports said Khaleda herself had been virtual confinement in her home since April 1 while the government sought to persuade her to go into exile.

The government denied such moves and earlier this week the head of the interim government, Fakhruddin Ahmed, told the media that Khaleda and her bitter rival and former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were free.

Hasina, chief of the Awami League, received party leaders at her home on Friday and went out to visit a relative, her associates said.
But reporters have not been allowed to meet the two leaders. Security officials did not give any reason.

Hasina was briefly barred from returning from abroad last month "on security reasons". She arrived in Dhaka from London last week.

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