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    BCB boss hopes unrest will end before T20 World Cup

    Dhaka: Bangladesh's Cricket Board chief said on Tuesday he was hopeful the country could host next year's Twenty20 World Cup after the country's two main parties met in a bid to end a deepening political crisis.

    Nazmul Hassan's comments came a day after he expressed concern about whether the 16-team contest to be held from March 16 to April 6 could go ahead.

    The competition would be Bangladesh's biggest-ever sporting event. "This (political crisis) will not carry on forever," Hassan said in a statement.

    On Tuesday, deputy chiefs of the country's two main warring parties held a dialogue for the first time, brightening hopes for an end to a standoff over January 5 polls.

    UN assistant secretary for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, who is visiting the country to broker a deal, called the development "an important moment in the current context".

    Bangladesh has been gripped by violent protests in recent weeks, with opposition supporters insisting that prime minister Sheikh Hasina step aside before elections due next month. Scores of people have been killed since late October.

    "We have three very important cricketing events coming up in Bangladesh. The tour of Sri Lanka starts towards the end of January 2014, the Asia Cup is in February-March and the ICC World Twenty20 begins in March," the BCB chief said in a statement.

    "I do not foresee any alarms in hosting these competitions as I am very confident that we will soon see the end of this phase of tension," he added.

    On Monday, Hassan said the key cricket meets could be "under threat" if the deadly political violence did not end by January. The violence has hit almost every city, including the three host venues for the T20 tournament - capital Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.

    A team of International Cricket Council (ICC) inspectors declared last week they were "happy" with security arrangements but said they would continue to monitor the situation.

    The dangers posed to teams was underlined at the weekend when a small bomb exploded outside the West Indies' Under-19 team's hotel in the port city of Chittagong, prompting them to cut short their tour.

    Bangladesh is also due to host a tour by Sri Lanka in January before staging the Asia Cup, a 50-over tournament starting in February which also features India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    In Sri Lanka, cricket authorities said they were closely monitoring developments.

    "We are doing an independent security review," Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told AFP. "Once we have a report, we will take a call on whether to go ahead or not.

    "We are in talks with the Bangladesh board. We have to be very careful because of the... bad experience we had (in Pakistan) before."

    Seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach suffered injuries in March 2009 when a dozen gunmen opened fire on their bus in Lahore. Sri Lanka are scheduled to play two Tests, two one-day games and two T20 matches starting January 27 in Bangladesh.

    An ICC spokesman said on Monday it was "actively monitoring" the situation in Bangladesh. FICA, the umbrella body for players' associations from around the cricketing world, said it was seeking advice from its independent security adviser.

    "We will continue to monitor the threat levels between now and the start of the tournament and will keep players informed," said FICA executive chairman Paul Marsh.

    "We will ensure that the safety of our players is paramount in our decision-making. There is, however, more than three months until the event starts and as such we do not need to be making any decisions at this time."

    A spokesman for Cricket Australia said the board would seek its own government's advice on the security situation, but no decision on whether to go to Bangladesh would be made until much nearer the time.

    Australia and the West Indies both refused to play in Sri Lanka during the 1996 50-over World Cup after a bomb went off in Colombo, killing 91 people, shortly before the tournament began.

    New Zealand refused to play in Kenya during the 2003 World Cup, a few months after a deadly bomb attack in Mombasa. Pakistan have not hosted any international matches since the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009.