NEW DELHI, July 4 � Taken aback by the sharp reaction in Bangladesh over the Prime Minister�s off the record comments, India today announced the dates of Dr Manmohan Singh�s forthcoming visit to Dhaka. ��
�At the invitation of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, would be paying an official visit to Bangladesh from September 6 to 7,� it was officially announced on Monday.
The dates of the Prime Minister�s visit were hurriedly
announced today amidst a raging controversy in Bangladesh over Dr Singh�s remarks about growing influence of ISI and Jamiat-i- Islami and anti-India sentiments in the neighbouring country.
The controversy surfaced at a time when a flurry of visits by top UPA Ministers were planned by India to express its gratitude over Bangladesh�s crackdown on insurgent outfits of the North East.
The External Affairs Minister is flying down to Dhaka on a three-day visit on July 6. UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to arrive in Bangladesh July 25 to take part in a national seminar. �Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is scheduled to visit Bangladesh in the second-half of August under a Home Minister-level exchange programme. He is likely to be accompanied by Minister for Water Resources Salman Khursid.
Sources said that there would be four high-level visits by Indian leaders in the next two months.
Meanwhile, India continued its damage control exercise, with official spokesman of External Affairs Ministry Vishnu Prakash tweeting that New Delhi attaches highest importance to its relations with Bangladesh. The Prime Minister, his government and Indian people have the greatest affection for the people of Bangladesh. �We hold our relations with Bangladesh to be of the highest importance,� he said.
In recent years, ties between India and Bangladesh have seen exceptional heights with close cooperation in a wide range of areas, the spokesman said, adding that focus on both sides is development, cooperation, capacity building and education.
It is in this context that External Affairs Minister would pay an official visit to Bangladesh soon, he added.