Ten-day celebration: Dhaka ready to welcome global leaders

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Dhaka, Mar 15: Bangladesh is going to wear a festive look ahead of a 10-day special programme marking the 50 years of independence and the birth centenary of Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that begins on March 17 at the Parade Ground.

President Abdul Hamid will attend the programmes on March 17, 22 and 26 while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on March 17,  19, 22, 24 and 26. The heads of government or state of different countries will join the programmes as hounourable guests.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen shared information about the preparations in this regard at a press conference held at Foreign Service Academy on Monday.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Akam and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen were also present.

Bangladesh eyes stronger relations with the external world through celebrating the 50 years of its independence amid the presence of global leaders – both in person and virtually.

Dr Momen said President of the Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will join the celebrations in person.

The Foreign Minister said President of China Xi Jinping will send a video message marking the celebrations and a counselor, who is above the rank of a minister, may come with the message.

Dr Momen said France President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will send video messages.

The Foreign Minister said France President and Canadian Prime Minister will also send video messages marking the celebrations.

President of the Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his wife Fazna Ahmed will arrive on March 17 on a two-day visit and attend the celebrations at the Parade Ground in the city.

Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa will arrive in Dhaka on March 19 to join the celebrations while President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari will be here on March 22.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will arrive in Dhaka on March 24 while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive on March 26.

Modi will visit places outside Dhaka though other three South Asian leaders will have engagements in Dhaka only.

The Indian Prime Minister will visit Bangabandhu Memorial in Tungipara to pay respect to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The five leaders are likely to visit the National Mausoleum at Savar, Dhanmondi 32 and will attend the main programme at the Parade Ground.

Maldives

The Maldives President will lead a 27- member entourage during the tour, said the Foreign Minister.

It is expected that the existing friendly relations between the two countries will be strengthened further and a new horizon of bilateral ties will be opened during the visit of the Maldivian President, he added.

Sri Lanka

A bilateral meeting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa will be held on March 20.

Mutual cooperation on various bilateral issues, including trade, investment, agriculture, coastal vessel movement, education and ICT will get the focus at the meeting, said Dr Momen.

Nepal

President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari will meet President Abdul Hamid on March 22 evening and discuss the issues of bilateral interest, said Momen adding that a number of agreements and MoUs are expected to be signed between the two countries in presence of the two presidents.

Tourism, cultural ties and trade relations are expected to get a boost between the two nations with the signing of the agreements and MoUs, he said.

Bhutan

The issues of bilateral interest are likely to be discussed during Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering’s visit to Bangladesh.

The visit will be considered as an important chapter of bilateral relations between the two countries, said Dr Momen.

India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a progrmme marking the 50 years of independence of Bangladesh at Parade Ground on March 26 at ‘Guest of Honour’, said the Foreign Minister.

Modi will visit Tungipara in Gopalganj on March 27 to pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Indian Prime Minister expressed his interest to visit two temples in Satkhira and Gopalganj districts and exchange views with local people, said Momen.

A one-to-one meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and delegation-level bilateral meeting  are scheduled to be held on March 27, taking forward the relations between the two countries keeping the celebratory year in focus.

Some Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) are likely to be signed between the two countries and a number of projects are likely to be inaugurated in presence of the two prime ministers, said the Foreign Minister.

Bangladesh and India will hold four Secretary-level meetings before the Summit meeting between the two Prime Ministers to give inputs for the March-27 talks.

The meeting between the Water Resources Secretaries of the two countries will be held in New Delhi while Commerce Secretary-level, Home Secretary-level and Shipping Secretary-level talks will be held in Dhaka.

Indian Foreign Minister Dr Jaishankar is likely to visit Bangladesh before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier at the December-17 virtual meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked her Indian counterpart for accepting her invitation to visit Bangladesh in person in March 2021 to join the celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.

Bangladesh and India described the year 2021 as historic in their bilateral relations as they would be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Liberation War and the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh.