Dhaka dinner diplomacy: Hasina invites Khaleda to Iftar


Dhaka : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday invited opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia for an Iftar party, triggering prospects of a political rapproachment.

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Hasina’s protocol officer Proloy Joardar Thursday morning handed over the invitation letter to Zia’s private secretary A.S.M. Saleh Ahmed, Star Online said.

Ahmed confirmed receiving the invitation, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency reported.

The invitations have gone to other political leaders as well as part of the interaction that is normal during the Ramadan when prayers are held by devout Muslims and the day-long fast is broken.

After a round of dates and snacks, a dinner follows.

Political significance is being attached to the invitation as Hasina and Zia do not meet socially and have interacted only on rare occasions.

The last time they met was when Hasina’s husband, Wajed Miah, died. Zia called on the prime minister at her residence, consoled her and other family members and the two prayed together.

Attempts to bring the two women leaders on the same platform during the poll campaign last November-December failed.

Hasina won the election by a landslide, defeating former prime minister Zia.

The two have only exchanged allegations at public forums, each accusing the other of “working against national interests”.

Zia is presently spearheading protests against a dam India proposes to build on the Barak river, accusing Hasina of a “sell-out to foreign powers”.