A red carpet was rolled out as the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset arrived in Dhaka on a four-day official visit today, the first official visit by any Swiss president to Bangladesh. President Md. Abdul Hamid received his Swiss counterpart as he arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by an aircraft of Swiss Air Force in the noon, local media reports said.
Cabinet members, including Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, dean of diplomatic corps, chiefs of three services, Inspector General of Police, secretary concerned to the president, among others, were present. A smartly turned out contingent comprising members of Bangladesh Army, Air Force and Bangladesh Navy gave guard of honour to the Swiss President. He was welcomed with a 21-gun salute.
Two tiny tots presented bouquets to President Berset. After the warm reception at the airport, the Swiss President was taken to Sonargaon Hotel in a ceremonial motorcade where he will be staying during the visit.
President Berset will visit Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar districton Tuesday and listen to stories of tortures from Rohingyas. Bangladesh Foreign Minister will meet the Swiss President at Sonargaon Hotel in the evening.
On Monday, President Berset will visit Savar National Mausoleum to pay homage to Liberation War martyrs. He will also visit Bangabandhu Museum at Dhanmondi to pay respect to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Swiss President will have official talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office on Monday afternoon. President Hamid will host dinner in honour of his Swiss counterpart at Bangabhaban on Monday evening.
There will be two main focuses -- solidarity with a country that is severely affected by the crisis in neighbouring Myanmar and the establishment of closer bilateral relations, says the Swiss Embassy in Dhaka. Apart from underscoring the current status of bilateral relations, the two countries will discuss ways to further strengthen economic, development and cultural cooperation during the visit. Besides, solidarity with Bangladesh over the Rohingya crisis will be a major focus of the talks, according to the Swiss Embassy.
On Tuesday, Berset will visit the Kutupalong camp in the Cox's Bazar, where Switzerland provides humanitarian aid to refugees from the Rohingya ethnic group who have fled Myanmar. During his stay in Bangladesh, Berset will meet civil society representatives, Swiss businesses active in Bangladesh, and visit the Dhaka Art Summit, of which the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is a partner.
Switzerland and Bangladesh enjoy longstanding relations in the area of development cooperation. Bangladesh is a priority country in Swiss development cooperation. At the same time, the bilateral economic relations are growing. The volume of trade between the two countries has more than doubled since 2010.
Swiss President, wrapping up his three-day visit, will depart Bangladesh on Wednesday.