Sonia Gandhi arrives in Bangladesh

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Sonia Gandhi
Dhaka, Jul 25: Congress party president Sonia Gandhi arrives here on Sunday, late night to receive Bangladesh's highest state award on behalf of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her outstanding contribution to the country's 1971 ''Liberation War''.

Sonia, who is visiting Dhaka at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will also be the chief guest at the inaugural function of a five-day conference on ''Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia'' on July 25.

The 24-hour visit, ahead of the official tour of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is expected to boost Indo-Bangla ties, which many believe is going through its best phase in the last decade.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, who is expected to receive the Congress leaders at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, earlier said Bangladesh was "looking forward to the visit of Sonia Gandhi".

"She is a family member of Indira Gandhi who was our great friend during our war for freedom, the President of Congress and the chairperson of UPA," Moni said.

Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said it expected the visit to strengthen bilateral ties.

"We expect Sonia Gandhi's visit to cement further Bangladesh-India relations," BNP's acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters.

Last week, the cabinet decided to confer posthumously the country's highest state honour, ''Bangladesh Swadhinata Sanmanona'' on the assassinated Indian Prime Minister for her outstanding contribution to the country's independence.

The Congress president will receive the award on behalf of her mother-in-law from President Zillur Rahman at a grand ceremony in the presidential palace on Monday, Jul 25.

PTI

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