Dhaka – Dhaka and Moscow have agreed to achieve shared goals for mutual benefits of the peoples of Bangladesh and Russia.
The consensus came during official talks between Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday, according to a report by state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
“The officials talks were held in a most warm and friendly atmosphere where the two ministers agreed to achieve shared goals for mutual benefits of the two friendly countries,” a foreign ministry release said Friday.
This is the first official visit by a Bangladesh foreign minister to Russia, at the invitation of Russian foreign minister, since the then USSR recognized Bangladesh as an independent country in January 1972.
The visit also coincided with 45 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Both the ministers discussed regional issues of mutual interests, including the situation concerning Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.
Ali sought the support of his Russian counterpart for finding a permanent solution to the issue.
The Russian foreign minister termed Bangladesh a ‘reliable partner’ and highly appreciated the upward trajectory of bilateral relations, particularly since official visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Moscow in January 2013.
He further recalled the fruitful meeting between the two prime ministers on the sidelines of ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar in July 2016.
Lavrov expressed high satisfaction at the regular political dialogue/interactions at the foreign minister, deputy minister/foreign secretary and senior official level.
He also expressed happiness at the volume increase in two-way trade, that crossed $1.5 billion in 2015-2016 and hope that economic cooperation would be further intensified in the future, the news agency reported.
Ali recalled with deep gratitude the tremendous support that was extended by the people and government of Russia (then USSR) during our War of Liberation in 1971.
He also recalled with deep sense of appreciation the supreme sacrifice made by some of the Russian servicemen while clearing mines in the port of Chittagong, as part of the post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Bangladesh.
In recognition of that Dhaka bestowed “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour” and the “Friends of Bangladesh Honour” upon those Russian friends in 2012.
Ever since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Moscow in 2013, Bangladesh and Russia have been closely working to establish mutually beneficial and comprehensive economic partnership in various sectors.
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant now stands as a signature initiative in that respect. Both the ministers expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far in the project.
Ali handed over a personal letter from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, to Foreign Minister Lavrov, inviting her counterpart to visit Bangladesh.
In her letter, Hasina expressed confidence that Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit would be a milestone in marking the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, including laying the foundation to take it to the next level.
Both ministers expressed satisfaction at the signing/ratification of two important agreements in the recent past, respectively, Agreement on the Establishment of Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation and Agreement on Visa-free Travel for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports.
They were in view that these instruments would enhance people to people contact. In the above context, Mahmood Ali emphasized early operationalization of the recently established Intergovernmental Commission on trade, economic and scientific and technical cooperation and offered Bangladesh’s readiness to host the first meeting in Dhaka in 2017.
Ali sought support of Lavrov for duty-free quota-free access of Bangladesh’s exports to Russian market and also in the member states of Russia- led Eurasian Economic Union.
He also invited Russian investors/companies for entering into joint-ventures or 100 per cent owned business venture in the special economic zones, those are currently under implementation.
Lavrov indicated that Russian companies may be interested to be engaged in ICT projects in Bangladesh and in that context suggested appropriate proposals/invitations from Bangladesh side.
Both ministers expressed satisfaction at the ongoing collaboration between Gazprom International and Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (BAPEX) in energy sector since 2012, particularly exploring new wells for gas.
The Russian foreign minister said that the level of cooperation in energy field could be further intensified.
They are satisfaction at the defense cooperation between the two countries, including defense procurement under the US$ 1 billion State Export Credit from the Russian Federation.
Bangladesh sought support for providing enhanced training for Bangladesh armed forces personnel in Russian defense institutions and the Russian foreign minister agreed to take up the matter with his colleague in the Defense Ministry.
Lavrov thanked Bangladesh for its support at the UN and allied bodies. He particularly appreciated Bangladesh’s balanced approach and understanding on many global issues of mutual interests.
Ali invited Foreign Minister Lavrov to visit Bangladesh at an early date. Minister Lavrov warmly accepted the invitation.