Dhaka: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived here on Saturday on the second leg of her tri nation South Asia tour which will also take her to India.

Clinton is likely to ink a new partnership agreement and is the senior most US official to visit Bangladesh since then secretary of state Colin Powell flew to Dhaka in 2003.

America's top diplomat would hold talks with Bangladeshi leadership including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia among others.

Dhaka is "greatly happy to welcome Clinton as it will give us an opportunity to review and strengthen our historic relations based on shared vision and outlook", Hasina's foreign affairs advisor Gawher Rizvi said.

Clinton's arrival here on a two-day visit as part of her tri-nation South Asia tour, that earlier took her to Beijing, comes at a time when the country is gripped with political tensions.

The rivalry between the opposition and the government widened in the past two weeks with political violence claiming five lives over the mysterious disappearance of a BNP leader.

The opposition fears that he was a victim of "forced disappearance" by intelligence agencies while the government indicated that the opposition itself might have a hand behind his disappearance.

"I think political issues would dominate Clinton's talks with Bangladesh leaders compared to the development issues," international affairs analyst Professor Imtiaz Ahmed said.

Earlier reports said Clinton's visit was originally planned for early last year but was stalled, apparently over Washington's displeasure with the removal of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank.

"This visit is significant because an earlier visit was postponed over the Yunus issue and now it seems that the stalemate is over," Professor Delwar Hossain of international relations department of Dhaka University said.

Apart from meeting Hasina, Zia and her counterpart Dipu Moni, Clinton will also meet Yunus, BRAC chairman Fazle Hasan Abed and members of the civil society.


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