Bangladesh can do everything possible for Sri Lanka: Foreign Minister Ali

Bangladesh can do everything possible for Sri Lanka: Foreign Minister Ali

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is on a three-day state visit to Bangladesh, met Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on Friday morning. Hasina announced her plan to procure the Chinese submarines in 2013 when Bangladesh signed a billion-dollar deal with Russian Federation to buy fighter training jets, helicopters and anti-tank missiles.

Special attention was drawn during the discussion towards creating trade agreements between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as well as the creation of a special economic zone.

The foreign minister further said President Sirisena's visit to Bangladesh was an "important milestone in the long-standing friendship between the two countries". He had also said that Bangladesh was always a true friend to Sri Lanka, recalling with gratitude the assistance given by the Government of Bangladesh during the recent floods, as well as during the conflicts in the past.

A joint statement between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka said, President Sirisena and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held discussions on all aspects of Bangladesh-Sri Lanka relations as well as contemporary worldwide and regional issues of common interest.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Hassan Mahmood Ali also addressed the Forum.

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Following the official talks, the two countries signed 14 instruments - one agreement and 13 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) - to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of economy, agriculture, shipping, higher education, information technology and media.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque said the FTA with Sri Lanka would be Bangladesh's first such deal with any country and a necessary study would be done prior to signing the agreement.

Acknowledging that trade between the two countries is far below the potential, the two leaders agreed that in case of the economically meaningful exportables, tariff should be further lowered and non-tariff barriers addressed expeditiously.

Bangladesh analysts said procurement of the two submarines at a cost of $203 million reflected the country's growing economic and defence ties with Beijing. They underlined that investments from both countries could profit through increased joint ventures, public-private partnerships.

President Sirisena appreciating the warm hospitality and courtesies extended to him and his delegation by the government and the people of Bangladesh during the visit, extended an invitation to Bangladesh Prime Minister to visit Sri Lanka at a mutually convenient time in 2018.

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