MONDAY, MARCH 20
In the morning, President Clinton will depart New Delhi for the Zia International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he will be greeted by Bangladeshi President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, among other dignitaries.
The President will be greeted by Ambassador John Holzman and Chief of Protocol Mohammad Ziauddin before meeting President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The U.S. and Bangladeshi National anthems will be played by the Honor Guard band. Following the anthems, the President will review the Honor Guard. Bangladeshi Cabinet ministers and other dignitaries will also be in attendance.
The Zia International Airport was built during the presidency of Ziaur Rahman (1975-1981), and was named after him shortly after his assassination in 1981. President Zia's widow, Begum Zia, is herself a former Prime Minister and the current Leader of the Opposition. In 1997, the opposition protested when the government proposed that the airport be renamed "Dhaka International Airport."
The lounge where the arrival ceremony will be held is reserved for the use of the Prime Minister and the President and for welcoming visiting heads of state and government. The facility was built in the early 1980's during the rule of President Ershad.
Bilateral Meeting and Joint Statement with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
President Clinton will meet with Prime Minister Hasina and highlight new initiatives on energy cooperation and tropical forest conservation, among other topics.
The Prime Minister's Office is adjacent to the International Conference Center, which once was the seat of Parliament. The President's meetings will take place in the Conference Center. The Prime Minister's Office was built in the late 1980s as the President's office. When Bangladesh adopted a parliamentary form of government in 1991, the building was re-designated as the Prime Minister's Office.
Memorial Ceremony and Tree Planting
The President, accompanied by Mohammed Ziauddin, Shehabuddin Ahmed, Mosharraf Hossain, and Major General Mohammad Masudur Rahman, will lay a wreath at the base of the memorial and assist in planting a sapling honoring the martyrs buried there.
The National Monument at Savar was approved by the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh, also known as the "Father of the Nation" and "Bangabandhu" (Friend of Bengalis). Sheikh Mujib, the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was assassinated in 1975, along with virtually all members of his family. The present Prime Minister and her sister survived because both were out of the country at the time of the assassination. The monument honors all Bangladeshi martyrs, and was dedicated on December 16, 1982, the 11th anniversary of the surrender of Pakistan that ended Bangladesh's war of liberation.
The Monument is a 150-foot tall triangular tower. It is fronted by a reflecting pool and a Bangladesh flag. It is composed of seven separate concrete triangles, each one representing a phase of the movement for Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan. The seven phases begin with the language movement of 1952, and include other popular political movements in 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1969, ending with the Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971. Between one and three million Bengalis died during the nine-month war. Some of the martyrs are buried in mass graves on the monument grounds. The Monument is situated on 84 acres near the town of Savar, about 12 miles from Zia International Airport.
Meeting with Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia
The Leader of the Opposition, Begum Khaleda Zia, Chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the leading opposition party, will meet with the President at the Sonargaon Hotel.
Meeting with President Shahabuddin
President Clinton will call on President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, a respected former Supreme Court Chief Justice, who now plays a ceremonial role as Head of State.
President Shahabuddin will host a formal state banquet at his official residence, Bangabhawan. Built in the early 1960s, this impressive Moghul-style building served as the Governor's House of East Pakistan after Pakistan's independence from Britain in 1947. The house was renamed Bangabhawan -- House of Bengal -- and used as the official residence of the President after Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971. It has residential and office facilities, a banquet hall and a durbar (public reception) hall where the President administers oaths to ministers. The lawns are broad and spacious and encircled by a fence. The Durbar Hall is a large, rectangular room with portraits of prominent Bangladeshi historical figures on the walls.
Following the conclusion of the banquet, President Clinton will depart for New Delhi, India.