Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia hold talks to end political impasse

Dhaka, Oct 26 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her rival Khaleda Zia held a telephonic conversation Saturday to discuss the possibility of a dialogue between ruling and opposition parties to end the stalemate over a caretaker government to oversee elections, Xinhua reported.

It was the first direct conversation between the two leaders since 2009.

Hasina has invited Zia, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson and former prime minister, to Gono Bhaban, the former's official residence, Monday evening to discuss the caretaker government, said a BNP official requesting anonymity.

Hasina, also the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) party president, urged the BNP chief to withdraw her call for a three-day strike from Sunday morning, the official added.

TV footage showed Hasina talking to Khaleda on a mobile phone and asking the latter to withdraw the strike call.

On Friday, Bangladesh's main opposition called a three-day nationwide strike from Sunday morning to press its demand for restoration of the non-party caretaker government system to oversee the national elections slated for early 2014.

Khaleda Zia announced the strike at a grand rally in capital Dhaka, giving Hasina's government a two-day ultimatum for initiating a dialogue on a neutral election-time government.

At least six protesters were killed and about 500 injured when anti-government protesters and activists of the ruling party fought pitched battles Friday in different parts of Bangladesh.

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