Russian, Bangladeshi top diplomats to hold talks in Moscow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks on Monday with his Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, who is paying a working visit to Moscow. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the two sides will discuss the current state and prospects for bilateral relations and exchange views on pressing international and regional issues, TASS reported.
The top diplomat of Bangladesh last visited Russia in April 2017, while the last meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers took place in September on the sidelines on the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
One of the most pressing international issues that can be discussed by the parties at the upcoming negotiations is the situation with Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
According to the UN, the number of Rohingya refugees who crossed the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar after an outbreak of violence in Rakhine State has swelled to 688,000 people. Tensions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State flared up on August 25, 2017, when hundreds of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army militants attacked 30 police posts. Three days later, Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s Foreign Minister and State Counsellor, branded the Rohingya militants as Bengali terrorists. After that, the country’s security forces launched a region-wide crackdown.
In November, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on repatriating Rohingya refugees accommodated in refugee camps to their home country. Moscow hailed these agreements expressing the hope that constructive cooperation between the two countries would continue.
At a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Rakhine State in February, the Russian delegation expressed concern over attempts to delay the solution of the problem with refugees’ repatriation under the pretext of the absence of conditions for their return in Myanmar. Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, stressed that the situation with refugees is a matter of bilateral relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the issue should be resolved during the relevant consultations. He also noted that the authorities of Bangladesh shoulder an excessive burden receiving and accommodating refugees from Myanmar and called on the international community to provide them with all necessary assistance.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, in 2017, the volume of trade between Russia and Bangladesh reached a record level of $1,654 bln.
"Bangladesh is a major importer of Russian wheat. Partners are interested in increasing its purchased to 1 mln tonnes annually," the ministry said. Bangladesh also seeks to increase its exports to Russia. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told TASS her country planned to intensify exports to Russia.
Meanwhile, the construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the first in Bangladesh, continues to be the flagship of bilateral cooperation. In March, Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Power Corporation, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Bangladesh and the Indian Department of Atomic Energy signed a memorandum on cooperation in implementing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project, according to which the parties will cooperate in personnel training, exchanging experience and technical assistance.