Bangladesh PM shuns Pakistan summit invitation

Updated 13 November 2012
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Bangladesh PM shuns Pakistan summit invitation

DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned down an invitation to a summit in Islamabad next week, officials said on Tuesday, despite a recent olive branch from the Pakistan government.
“The prime minister is not going to attend the summit,” Syed Masud Khundoker, a director-general in Bangladesh’s foreign ministry, told AFP.
An official in Hasina’s office, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the prime minister would not be joining the eight-nation summit on November 22, and said Foreign Minister Dipu Moni would instead represent Bangladesh.
Neither official explained Hasina’s decision not to attend.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani had issued the invitation to Hasina in person last Friday on a rare visit to Bangladesh by a senior Pakistani to what was East Pakistan before it won a war for independence in December 1971.
Relations between the two sides remain extremely delicate with Moni asking Rabbani last week for Pakistan to apologize for war crimes committed by the army. Hasina’s government says up to three million people were killed in the conflict.
The Daily Star, a Dhaka-based newspaper, said that policy advisers had told Hasina that it would be unwise to visit Pakistan unless Islamabad offered a formal apology to Dhaka for what it regards as a “genocide.”
Ties have been particularly strained since Hasina’s Awami League party came to power in 2009 as it had led the freedom struggle against Pakistan.
However Hasina did visit Pakistan in 1999 in her first stint in office, in a bid to ease escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.
The summit of the D-8 group of developing nations in Islamabad is due to include representatives from six other nations, including Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Turkey.
The meeting begins on November 19 with leaders due to attend its finale on November 22.


Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

Updated 20 June 2018
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Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

  • Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War
  • Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed

ADDIS ABABA: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is dispatching a delegation to Addis Ababa for “constructive engagement” with arch-foe Ethiopia after peace overtures this month from its new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a senior Eritrean diplomat said on Wednesday.
Isais made the annoucement — a potentially significant breakthrough in one of Africa’s most protracted conflicts — earlier on Wednesday, Eritrea’s ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter. He gave no further details.
Eritrean information minister Yemane Ghebremeskel did not respond to requests for comment.
Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War, with waves of conscripts forced to march through minefields toward Eritrean trenches, where they were cut down by machine gun fire.
Casuality figures are disputed in both countries although most estimates suggest 50,000 Ethiopian soldiers died, against 20,000 on the Eritrean side.
Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed, most notably the town of Badme which was part of Eritrea, according to a 2002 international arbitration ruling.
Since then, Addis has ignored the ruling and refused to pull out troops or officials, to the fury of Asmara.
However, Abiy, a 41-year-old former soldier who has embarked on a radical economic and political reform drive since taking over in March, stunned Ethiopians this month when he said Addis would honor all the terms of the settlement between the two countries, suggesting he was prepared to cede Badme.
In parliament this week, Abiy also acknoewledged the tensions continued to inflict a heavy economic cost on both countries and said Addis should no longer hide this price tag from the Ethiopian people, another stunning departure with the past.
There has so far been no official response to Abiy’s overtures from Eritrea, one of the Africa’s most closed states.