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Dhaka, Riyadh opt to take more time
The expected defence cooperation deal between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia was not signed as both sides agreed to discuss the matter further.
The proposed Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation between Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not signed today [yesterday]…, the prime minister's Additional Press Secretary Md Nazrul Islam told The Daily Star over phone last night.
Both sides agreed to sign it sometime in the future, after making some adjustments, said the official accompanying the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
It could not be immediately known which part of the deal needed to be improved or changed.
Nazrul Islam, however, said Dhaka and Riyadh signed the ICT deal and five other MoUs to enhance cooperation in chemical, steel and solar power sectors between the two countries.
He said apart from meeting the Saudi King, the PM also had a courtesy meeting with the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the evening.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, at a press conference in Dhaka on October 15, announced that two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) -- one on defence and the other on ICT -- would be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to the gulf country.
Ali, however, did not elaborate on the defence deal.
At the conference, the minister had said relations with the Kingdom had been strengthened in recent years due to the farsighted leadership of the prime minister.
It is now multidimensional… and the relations are now expanding to the defence level in addition to the religious, political, economic, and cultural relations, he added.
Earlier, diplomatic sources said both the countries agreed to ink the defence deal to give the ongoing military to military relations a permanent and structured base.
Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have increased their defence cooperation in the last few years, especially since Bangladesh joined the Saudi-led 41-nation Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) in December 2015. Bangladesh is one of the founder members of the alliance.
An 18-member Bangladesh Armed Forces delegation took part in the month-long joint military exercise Gulf Shield -1 in April. It was the first time that Bangladesh Armed Forces participated in such an exercise, in which 22 other countries took part. The Bangladesh PM attended the concluding ceremony of the joint exercise.
Diplomatic sources said Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia had both shown interest in developing defence ties, although Dhaka had no intention to engage in any war.
Bangladesh would not engage in any war and the same principle was followed in the Bangladesh-Kuwait defence pact, which was signed in 1997, according to the sources.
They said the Bangladesh PM, during her past visits, had assured the Saudi King of considering sending troops to the Kingdom with the UN Security Council's approval.
However, foreign ministry officials said Dhaka assured Riyadh that it would show a strong response in case the Two Holy Mosques faced threats.
FIVE AGREEMENTS SIGNED
Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia yesterday signed five MoUs to enhance cooperation in chemical, steel and solar power sectors between the two countries, reports UNB.
Those were inked after the PM met with members of the Saudi business community, including leaders of the Council of Saudi Chamber and Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, at King Saud Palace.
The deals are: an MoU on Concerning Principles of Cooperation between Bangladesh Chemical Industries and Engineering Dimension of Saudi Arabia; an MoU on Construction Cooperation between Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation and Hanwah Engineering of Saudi Arabia; an MoU between Bangladesh Steel & Engineering Corporation (BSEC) and Engineering Dimension of Saudi Arabia; an MoU between Industries Ministry of Bangladesh and Alfanar Company of Saudi Arabia on development of solar power project in Bangladesh; and an MoU between Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEPZA) and Al Bawany Co Ltd of Saudi Arabia.
PMO Secretary Sajjadul Hassan signed all the agreements on behalf of the government.
SAUDI KING LAUDS BANGLADESH'S DEVELOPMENT
Appreciating Bangladesh's tremendous development achieved under Sheikh Hasina's leadership, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud yesterday hoped she would continue in power in future, reports UNB, quoting the foreign secretary.
The king expressed the hope when Hasina met him, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters after the meeting.
The Saudi king repeatedly said Bangladesh has achieved huge development and its continuity needs to be maintained, he said.
Salman, also the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, said Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia relations would be strengthened further if there was continuity of the government, the foreign secretary added.
The king came out to the gate of the Royal Palace to receive the PM, he told journalists.
Salman stressed the need for exploiting opportunities on the bilateral cooperation in different sectors, including economic and cultural ones.
He also praised Bangladesh for its stance on the establishment of the Palestine people's rights.
Hasina thanked the Saudi king for his hospitality.
When the PM drew his attention to the problems of Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia, the king said it was his duty to resolve those as Bangladeshi expatriates contribute to the socio-economic development of his country.
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