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Hasina for tapping Bangladesh-Maldives’ full trade potentials

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday laid emphasis on fully tapping the potentials of bilateral trade and investment between Bangladesh and the Maldives.

“Despite opportunities, we couldn’t yet fully tap the potentials of bilateral trade and investment,” she said while delivering her joint press statement at the Presidential Office here.

Sheikh Hasina said with its growing manufacturing capacity, Bangladesh would be able to supply many quality products to the Maldives at competitive prices.

Hasina also reemphasized the necessity of a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries and a bilateral investment protection arrangement for mutual facilitation of investment.

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The Prime Minister mentioned that she had a detailed discussion with Maldivian President Solih on promoting bilateral trade, investment, and connectivity.

It is Hasina’s first-ever bilateral visit to the Maldives, though she had come here earlier for the SAARC Summit.

Hasina termed 2021 as a landmark year for Bangladesh-Maldives bilateral relations. “We had the honour of commencing our celebrations of the birth centenary of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of our Independence in March this year with the presence of President Solih in Bangladesh,” she said.

The PM said the Vice President of the Maldives visited Bangladesh in November, followed by bilateral consultations between the two countries. “Earlier in February, we also had the opportunity to welcome your Foreign Minister in Dhaka, and now I am here,” she said.

She expressed her satisfaction over the meeting with the Maldivian President terming it a very fruitful discussion on the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations.

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“We reviewed the progress made so far on our earlier decisions and found the outcome satisfactory. Following the official talks, we witnessed the signing of some bilateral instruments. We also witnessed handing over 13 Military Vehicles by our Government to the Maldives government as a goodwill gesture,” Hasina said.

She mentioned that both agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation, especially in Health, Education, Human Resources Development, Youth and Sports, Fisheries, and Agriculture.

“It is a matter of great satisfaction that Bangladesh has accepted the Maldives’ proposal for recruiting health professionals from Bangladesh; vis-s-vis, we’ll create opportunities for specialised postgraduate medical courses for Maldivian students.”

Both the leaders noted with satisfaction that the direct air connectivity between Bangladesh and Maldives has been enhanced through the commencement of flights by Bangladeshi airlines US-Bangla.

“Our national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines, is also thinking of introducing flights on Dhaka-Male route. With direct flights, we hope, people-to-people contacts and exchange of tourism will be increased,” she said, adding both the countries also reviewed the possibility of establishing a direct shipping line.

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The Prime Minister went on saying, “As the welfare of our own people is one of our priorities, consular and community issues were featured prominently in our discussions. “We also discussed the regularization of undocumented Bangladeshi nationals whose substantial contributions to both economies.”

She mentioned that the Bangladesh government has decided to facilitate visas on arrival for Maldivian nationals in the context of the improved situation of the current Pandemic. “We also discussed our cooperation in multilateral fora, support for each other candidatures, and cooperation in countering terrorism.”

Hasina said they both agreed to work together to face the challenge of climate change and the early repatriation of forcibly displaced Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar.

“As Bangladesh completes its first half-century journey as an independent nation and looks ahead to transforming itself into a modern, prosperous and developed economy by 2041, fulfilling the dream of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for a ‘Golden Bangladesh’, we look forward to partnering with the Maldives in the areas of our commonalities for the benefit of our two peoples,” she added.

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Politics

Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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