In a welcome development, the Bangladesh government and the Opposition held talks to end the stalemate over the general elections.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has once again urged the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to join the interim Cabinet. She said any ministry wanted by BNP chief Khaleda Zia would be offered to the party.

“Only the BNP did not join the all-party Cabinet,” Ms. Hasina said.

Reiterating that President Abdul Hamid had told her to make the interim Cabinet smaller, Ms. Hasina said the President would now request the Election Commission to declare the poll schedule.

Key leaders of both the parties have confirmed that Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam and BNP acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had a “closed-door” meeting on Saturday night. Confirming this, A.S.M. Hannan Shah, presidium member of BNP, said “there was no notable progress.”

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said they were aimed at “restoring the atmosphere for a healthy dialogue” between the rival parties to hold a participatory general election, due by January 24 next year.

Media reports said the BNP acting secretary-general had given to the government a written statement containing the Opposition’s demands.

In another development, Ms. Hasina inducted as advisor into the interim Cabinet an editor of a newspaper, Anwar Hossain Manju. He is the chairman of a faction of the Jatiya Party.