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“I oppose Jamaat because of its ideology,” he said. “It wants to take us back through time to a world when people believed the earth was flat.”

On the political situation in Bangladesh, Mr. Kamaruzzaman said the caretaker government installed two years ago and backed by the military is risking pushing “the country toward uncertainty and darkness.”

Jamaat party leader Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami was arrested last month on corruption charges, joining the leaders of the two major parties, Sheikh Hasina Wazed of the Awami League and Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who were jailed last year.

“This is an attempt to eliminate the party leaders so they cannot compete in the elections,” Mr. Kamaruzzaman said. “We are demanding they be released.”

The interim government was supposed to have ruled for no more than 90 days. It promises elections by the end of December.

Dutch visit

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands is due in Washington on Thursday to meet with President Bush to discuss developments in Afghanistan and economic relations with the United States, the Dutch Embassy said Tuesday.

The prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, who will meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

*Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.