• UN chief calls for dialogue to solve violent differences in Bangladesh

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    UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resolve differences over upcoming parliamentary elections through dialogue.

    The secretary-general voiced strong concern over widespread violence in Bangladesh that has reportedly left dozens of people dead since last month, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here.

    Ban spoke with Hasina and Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid by phone as UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, wrapped up a visit to the South Asian country with a statement that the current political crisis is exacting a heavy, human, social and economic toll, seriously threatening the hard-earned economic and social progress that Bangladesh has achieved.

    The UN-brokered talks have visibly yielded no outcome to end the election standoff as the senior UN official left Bangladesh with merely the hope that the “two major parties will continue discussions.”

    The UN envoy on Saturday launched a hectic mission to reconcile Bangladesh’s two major political parties as the last-ditch efforts to resolve the bloody conflict.

    “The leaders have shown statesmanship,” Fernandez-Taranco told a news conference in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, of his meetings with government and opposition leaders and election officials. “It remains critical to reduce tension and to continue to engage in constructive dialogue so as to create a congenial atmosphere.”

    “There are measures that would contribute immensely: a call by all sides to end the violence, the release of opposition political leaders, and a mutually satisfactory solution to concerns regarding the election schedule,” he said.

    The major parties have so far failed to resolve their differences over the conduct of elections and supporters of both parties have been clashing with each other and with the security forces. Scores of people have been killed, hundreds injured, and there has been extensive destruction of property.

    “At this moment the world is remembering Nelson Mandela’s legacy,” Fernandez-Taranco said, referring to the South Africa’s first black president who died Thursday at the age of 95. “Please allow me to quote his words from the visit he made to Bangladesh in March 1997: ‘A nation united in pursuit of shared goals can overcome the most difficult problems’.” PNA

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