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India denies envoy summoned by Bangladesh


New Delhi : India Sunday denied its envoy to Bangladesh was summoned to explain Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ‘off-the-record’ remarks and added that the meeting was only scheduled to discuss the upcoming visit of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to Dhaka this week.

“Our HC (High commissioner) in Dhaka 2 (to) meet BD (Bangladesh) FS (foreign secretary) 2day (today) to discuss forthcoming official visit of EAM to BD,” Ministry of External Affair’s official spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said on his twitter account.

He also added that media reports that Indian envoy Ranjeet Mitter was summoned to explain the prime minister’s remarks was “speculative”.

In his interaction with a group of editors June 29 here, Manmohan Singh in “off-the-record” remarks spoke candidly about his assessment of the situation in Bangladesh, stating that at least 25 percent of the population “swear by the Jamiat-e-Islami and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI”.

The remarks posted on the website Wednesday night were splashed in leading Bangladeshi dailies, providing a handle to right-wing elements which thrive on anti-India propaganda.

The remarks were later edited out of the PMO’s website.

On Saturday, the Ministry of External Affairs went into damage control mode, asserting that India holds relations with Bangladesh “to be of the highest importance”.

“It is clarified in this regard that these attributed remarks were by no means intended to be judgmental,” said the spokesperson.

The controversy erupted just as Krishna is scheduled to visit Dhaka July 6. Sources point out that the meeting between the Indian envoy and Bangladesh foreign secretary was scheduled before the prime minister’s interaction with editors.

Krishna’s trip comes ahead of the prime minister’s visit to Bangladesh, likely after the Indian parliament completes its monsoon session.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s visit to India in January 2010 saw warming of ties between the two neighbours that had languished during her predecessor Begum Khaleda’s tenure.

The visit saw India announcing $1 billion line of credit for infrastructure projects in Bangladesh and the signing of crucial agreements on enhanced counter-terror and security cooperation.