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Thursday, June 19, 2003

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News Brief, Summary of more than 20 leading Bangla & English Dailies, Source : News Garden

Thursday, June 19, 2003


US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives in Dhaka today (Thursday) on a brief but eventful five-hour visit to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relation and international issues with Bangladesh leaders. During his stay in Dhaka, Powell will hold official talks with Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan and meet Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

Parliament witnessed a heated unscheduled debate on the question using mobile cellular telephone inside the house and AL members staged walkout twice  in quick succession complaining of denial of adequate opportunity to defend themselves.

Local Government Minister and BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuyian accused the opposition of coming to the House prepared to stage a walkout on any plea just to give foreign dignitaries an impression that Bangladesh is having an unstable political situation.

Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked party workers to get ready to resist 'government oppression'. "We don't want to see any more bodies of our men," she said, asking her partymen to go  for  retaliation.

Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), student front of the main opposition Awami League, has called for a countrywide half-day hartal today to protest the killing of its city unit leader Shaiful Rashid Palash popularly known as S R Palash.

Three passenger buses including two of state-run BRTC were set ablaze at different parts of the city during the last 24 hours till 8:30 pm Wednesday ahead of the Chatra League announced hartal. Chittagong District Special Branch (DSB) inspector T P Auong was suspended today for his involvement in the abduction of millionaire businessman Abul Hussein Sawdagor and his son Abul Kashem. Seven other accused policemen were also closed for their involvement in the incident.

Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad criticised the government for imposing an additional tax of Tk 5,000 crore in the proposed budget for 2003-04 fiscal. This budget would add to the sufferings of people instead of making any positive impact, the former president said at a press conference in the city on Tuesday.

An inter-ministerial meeting on price situation Wednesday urged traders to keep prices of essential commodities within the capacity of common people, otherwise the meeting warned that the government would be compelled to take painful measures.

The Ministry of Commerce convened the meeting to review the price situation, especially after the announcement of the new budget, and find out ways and means how to keep the price situation within the purchasing capacity of common people.

The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), a leading trade association, has suggested that the government initiate a dialogue with India on a free trade agreement (FTA). The chamber stressed inclusion of fair terms and conditions in the possible FTA to enable Bangladeshi items to reap benefits.

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia said yesterday that he country wants to be a Dialogue Partner of the ASEAN and a full member of the ASEAN Regional Forum. "Our unique geographical location markes Bangladesh a natural bridge etween South and South East Asia," she
said at a dinner hosted by her in honour of visiting Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri at Bangladesh-China Conference Centre in the city.

Business leaders from Bangladesh and Indonesia decided to form a Joint Business Council (JBC) to expedite trade and investment between the two nations. A emorandum of understanding (MoU), paving the way for formation of the JBC, is expected to be signed today (Thursday).

Indian industry is planning to use Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to China next week to launch a push to lift bilateral trade beyond the current level of five billion dollars. Industry officials said trade between the giant neighbours was far "below potential", given they were two of the world's largest markets and their economies were among the fastest growing in the region.

Pakistan has secured another $123 million from the International Monetary Fund as part of a three-year $1.47 billion soft loan after IMF experts completed their fifth review of the country's economy. With this, the total disbursements to Pakistan under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement has gone up to $738 million. PRGF is a soft loan facility carrying an annual interest rate of 0.5 per cent.

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Two US troops and two Iraqi demonstrators were killed Wednesday in separate incidents in Baghdad. US security concerns have clashed with Iraq's traditional culture in a potentially volatile flap over American men frisking Iraqi women. The practice is not widespread, and the Americans say they use it only as a last resort. But tales of such incidents - and television footage of a male American soldier patting down a chador-clad Iraqi woman - have sparked outrage in Iraq. U.S. forces have captured Saddam Hussein's top aide and presidential secretary, a man who American officials believe knows the fate of the deposed Iraqi leader and has information about banned weapons.

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The Under-23 cricket team left Dhaka for Sri Lanka on Wednesday on a friendly tour. During the 24-day tour, Bangladesh will play three limited-over matches and five two-day matches.

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