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New Delhi: Bangladesh’s former prime minister Khaleda Zia, whose stints in power saw tense relations with New Delhi, has assured India that Bangladeshi territory will not be allowed to be used by anti-India insurgents, saying “it’s time to look ahead and not in a rear-view mirror”.
In his first meeting with a foreign dignitary after he took charge as foreign minister a couple of days ago, Salman Khurshid yesterday met Zia, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and discussed a cluster of bilateral issues.
In her talks, Zia reiterated the assurance she had given to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday that Bangladeshi territory will not be allowed to be used by anti-India insurgents and rebels, Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry, told reporters here.
“Zia has conveyed that ‘let’s look forward and not in the rear-view mirror’,” the spokesperson said.
Zia’s comments indicated that she and her party BNP want to break from the past by having more positive relations with India if she wins the polls, expected next year.
Khurshid and Zia held talks on an entire range of bilateral issues, including the need to fast-track the Teesta pact, the land boundary agreement and occasional skirmishes on the border.
During her discussions with Manmohan Singh, Zia has conveyed appreciation of various Indian initiatives which had been taken by the prime minister, including liberalisation of trade and efforts to provide power to the neighbouring country, said official sources.
In an important step that indicates the possibility of India building bridges with Zia, who is not known to be friendly towards New Delhi, the two leaders agreed to continue counter-terror cooperation.
This marks an important advance in India’s efforts to reach out to Bangladesh’s chief opposition party as Zia was widely seen to have patronised and encouraged anti-India elements and rebels from the northeast sheltering in the Bangladeshi territory during her time in power.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party is considered staunchly anti-India.
India signed a clutch of anti-terror and security-related agreements with Bangladesh during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi over two years ago, which heralded a new chapter in bilateral relations. Hasina belongs to the ruling Awami League.