Opposition alliance ends three-day violent hartal

The U.S. and India have stepped up efforts for a negotiated settlement to the crisis in Bangladesh even as the Opposition alliance ended on Tuesday a three-day violent hartal to force the Sheikh Hasina government to concede its demand for a neutral caretaker government to conduct elections.

U.S. Ambassador Dan W Mozena and Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran met twice in a week here to discuss the situation, which has aggravated with the Opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s refusal for a dialogue suggested by the Prime Minister.

U.S. Embassy spokesperson Kelly S McCarthy admitted that Ambassador Mozena and Mr. Saran met on Monday and discussed “a range of issues,” including Mr. Mozena’s recent visit to New Delhi. The second meeting between the two was seen “crucial” against the backdrop of the U.S. Ambassador’s four-day visit to New Delhi, where he met officials, including Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.

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Both embassies remained tight-lipped about the discussions. However, a number of Bangladeshi and Indian newspapers reported that the U.S. and India are “on the same page” regarding the Bangladesh situation. The two have common concerns on Bangladesh like re-emergence of fundamentalism, counter-terrorism, connectivity and energy cooperation.

However, India, a neighbour had “some differences of opinion,” diplomatic sources told The Hindu.

A source said Mr. Mozena visited New Delhi “as per the Obama administration’s decision.”