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Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 23:27 GMT

World: South Asia

EU worried about Bangladesh

EU urges restraint in political sphere

Foreign trade and investment with Bangladesh could suffer if the political situation worsens.

The warning came in a strongly-worded statement from the European Union which said that "lack of respect for elementary principles of democratic governance" was seriously hampering development prospects in Bangladesh.

If the country's troubles continued, foreign trade and investment as well as development cooperation would suffer, said the statement, issued by current EU president Germany.

Six people died in Bangladesh last week in a violent three-day strike led by opposition parties trying to stop municipal elections and pressing for the resignation of the chief election commissioner.

The EU says it has a strong interest in Bangladesh's development, pointing out the two sides had concluded negotiations on a new aid agreement in February. But the statement said the present situation in Bangladesh was "making effective co-operation increasingly difficult".

The statement went on to urge all parties to show restraint and not to use violence as a political weapon.

It said that the strikes and other forms of violent political confrontation endangered the lives and the well being of innocent citizens, disrupted public life and inflicted serious losses upon an economy which has not yet fully recovered from the effects of the catastrophic floods of 1998.

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