NATIONAL

Dhaka keen on constructive dialogue

DHAKA Jan. 3. The Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Morshed Khan, has refused to accept that relations with New Delhi were strained but admitted that there were some irritants last year ``apparently because of domestic compulsions of India''. Outlining his Government's foreign policy thrust for the year 2003, he said it would remain fully engaged in ``constructive dialogue'' with India.

``We have already identified the problems with India affecting our ties'', Mr. Morshed Khan said, adding that Bangladesh was committed to improving relations with her neighbours as well as other countries in the region.

``Bangladesh is keen to develop her relations with India in the new year on certain concrete basis — mutual trust, due recognition of legitimate concerns of Bangladesh and common challenges that the two countries must face together for poverty alleviation and promoting the prospect of regional stability'', the Minister explained.

He said ups and downs in the relations between two neighbours are nothing unusual. In a rather lighter vein, Mr. Khan who claimed a breakthrough in foreign policy guidelines in the last one year under his leadership, said Bangladesh-India relations have a touch of `romanticism'. ``Sometimes there is sunshine, sometimes rain. Its not unusual in a family, even between husband and a wife''.

He also expected the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to visit Bangladesh this year. ``Such visits are very important for knowing each other better.''

Portraying 2002 as the year of ``foreign policy success'', Mr. Khan said his office would continue to pursue a policy that ensures national security and at the same time strengthens ties with close neighbours.

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