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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Musharraf boosts Bangladesh ties
Musharraf reviews honour guard on Monday
The president was given a red-carpet welcome
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has signed a series of agreements with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia aimed at forging closer ties between the two former enemies.

The leaders met in Dhaka, a day after President Musharraf expressed regret for excesses committed in the 1971 Bangladesh war of independence.

It fell short of an unconditional apology and his comments were an attempt to fool Bangladeshis

Abdul Jalil,
Awami League
A BBC correspondent in Dhaka says relations between the two countries seem to be warmer than at any time since 1971, when the former East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh.

But he says the talks failed to make progress on some issues, including Bangladeshi demands for compensation for millions of dollars of assets lost during the conflict.

General Musharraf began the second day of his visit by having breakfast with former colleagues in the East Pakistan army.

His meetings took place against the backdrop of a general strike called in support of Dhaka students who are protesting against alleged police brutality.

Unresolved questions

Islamabad has already let it be known that it does not intend to pay Bangladesh any more money in compensation for suffering inflicted in the war.

Children carry anti-Pakistani placards
Many Bangladeshis want Pakistan held to account
It says that issue was dealt with in the late 1970s.

Islamabad also said it was unable to accede to Dhaka's request to allow thousands of people who supported Pakistan during the war to emigrate there.

Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon said Pakistan was already overwhelmed by Afghan refugees and could not cope with another influx.

His Bangladeshi counterpart, Morshed Khan, told journalists the two sides were focusing on improving trade and economic ties.

"All other remaining issues would be resolved through continuing discussions," he said.

Pain 'shared'

Alleged Pakistani atrocities have been a key bone of contention in relations between the two countries.

Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events of 1971

Pervez Musharraf
In a message written in the visitors' book at the mausoleum in honour of Bangladesh's war dead, the president said that Pakistanis shared the pain of that unfortunate period.

"I wish to express to the Bangladeshi people sincere regrets for the tragic events, which have left deep wounds on both our nations," he said at a state banquet later on Monday.

Our correspondent says the comments went far further than many in Bangladesh would have expected.

The Bangladesh Government was swift to welcome the move, but many opposition politicians want a full apology.

An award-winning picture from 1971
Many Bangladeshis have bitter memories of 1971
"His comments were an attempt to fool Bangladeshis," Abdul Jalil, a senior Awami League MP, told the AFP news agency.

Communist Party leader Monzurul Ahsan Khan said the general's comments were "valueless".

"Why should the Pakistanis be pained, as they were the aggressors who killed Bengalis in one of history's worst genocides?"

Dhaka says that about three million Bangladeshis were killed in the bitter nine-month conflict.

See also:

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