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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Bangladesh rivals in key meeting
By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Dhaka

Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan (left) and  Abdul Jalil
The two men agreed to meet again (Picture by Focus Bangla)
The government and opposition of Bangladesh have met in an effort to break a deadlock that threatens to scupper elections due in January.

The meeting follows months of violent demonstrations and general strikes.

The first session of talks ended without conclusion but the two sides did agree to meet again.

The talks took place in the parliament building between the secretary generals of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the opposition Awami League.

Opposition protests in Dhaka on September 18

Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Abdul Jalil of the opposition Awami League began by shaking hands.

It was a sign of how bitterly divided politics is here that a huge scrum of photographers and reporters had gathered to see the gesture.

Behind closed doors the men talked for something over an hour.

At stake is whether or not the next general election will take place at all.

The opposition has threatened a boycott unless there are reforms of the electoral system.

They say key officials who will oversee the process are government stooges and must be changed.

Afterwards the two men held a joint press conference.

They said that their meeting had not produced an agreement, but they will meet again on Friday.

That they are talking at all is seen by many here as something of a breakthrough.

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