Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday (Apr 26) expressed her firm belief that her just-concluded maiden official visit to Brunei would further strengthen the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the Southeast Asian country.
“It was my maiden official visit to Brunei. During the visit, hospitality and honour that the Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah showed to me and my entourage members were rare,” she told a crowded press conference at Ganabhaban in the afternoon. In overall consideration, the premier said the visit took the bilateral relations to a “new height”, as the presser was convened to brief the media about the outcome of her three-day tour.
Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, and State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Ali Ashraf Khan Khashru were present on the dais. Besides, senior Bangladesh Awami League leaders, senior journalists and government officials were present at the press conference moderated by PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, local media reported.
The premier said she sought Brunei Sultan’s cooperation in ensuring ASEAN countries effective role to resolve the Rohingya crisis while he “extended thanks to Bangladesh for giving shelter and ensuring humanitarian aid to 11 lakh Rohingyas”.
The Brunei Sultan, she said, put emphasis on “just and permanent solution” to the Rohingya crisis and expressed solidarity with Bangladesh’s efforts for their safe and dignified return.
At the outset of her written speech, the premier expressed deep shock at the tragic death of party leader Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim’s grandson Zayan Chowdhury, in the deadly terror attack in Sri Lanka.
She said just upon her arrival at the Brunei International Airport on Apr 21, she came to know about the attack and immediately conveyed her messages of condolence to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister.
Sheikh Hasina once again denounced the “cowardly attack” and called upon all to create a louder global opinion and undertake effective measures against terrorism.
The PM said on the second day of her Brunei visit, six bilateral memoranda of understanding were inked following her meeting with the Brunei Sultan.
The MoUs are on scientific and technical cooperation on agriculture; cooperation in the field of fisheries; cooperation in the field of livestock; cultural and arts; and LNG supplies.
During the visit, she said, the two countries exchanged diplomatic letters for visa relaxation for diplomatic and official passport holders of the both countries.
The premier said she attended the Bangladesh-Brunei Joint Business Forum joined by top businessmen, concerned ministers and high-ranking officials of both the countries.
“At that event, I portrayed Bangladesh’s liberal trade and investment atmosphere and called upon the entrepreneurs of Brunei to invest in our country,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said ahead of her formal talks with Bolkiah, she along with high officials of her entourage attended a welcome meeting with him and his Royal family members at the Sultan’s Palace.
During the talks, Sheikh Hasina said, she made specific proposals of cooperation in the field of exchanges of visit at high level, trade, investment, food, agriculture, fisheries, energy, information and communication technology and aviation.
“The Brunei Sultan welcomed my proposals and expressed his pledges to work together for their implementation,” she said.
She said Brunei acknowledged Bangladesh’s achievements in food and agriculture sectors and expressed willingness to extend massive bilateral cooperation in those sectors.
The premier said the meeting decided to increase contacts between businessmen, conduct survey on introducing priority-based trade and exemption of taxes.
She said the meeting primarily identified food processing, energy, information technology, shipbuilding industry, tourism infrastructure and jute industry as the potential sectors for investment.
The two countries, she said, agreed to strengthen bilateral relations in imparting training in health sector and recruiting professionals, drug manufacturing and business, constructing specialized health centers and other sectors.
The two countries, he said, agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding comprising ‘Consultation Mechanism’ for holding regular bilateral discussion for expatriate workers.
“We agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in education, culture, youth and sports, tourism and aviation sectors (as well)” alongside close people-to-people contact for strengthening bilateral ties.
The prime minister said the two sides agreed to take initiative to sign Air Service Agreement within “shortest possible time”.
She said the Sultan acclaimed the Bangladesh government’s role in different important regional and international issues including the UN peacekeeping mission.
The PM said the two countries agreed to enhance cooperation in different international forums including the ASEAN, OIC, Commonwealth and UN.
Sheikh Hasina said the Brunei Sultan extended his support for Bangladesh initiative to form a regional forum to bolster economic relations among five OIC countries of South and South-East Asian regions.
“The Sultan assured of taking effective steps in enhancing cooperation of ASEAN with Bangladesh,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the Brunei Sultan accepted her invitation to visit Bangladesh and expressed his willingness to visit Dhaka at a convenient time.
The PM said on Apr 23 she laid the foundation stone of new Chancery Building of Bangladesh High Commission at the Diplomatic Enclave at Jalan Kebangsaan in Brunei capital.