Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are set to sign a defence cooperation deal, to boost their military relationship, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits the Kingdom tomorrow.
Regarding the signing of the “Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia” in Riyadh, a highly placed official of the Bangladesh government said the defence pact would initiate a new era of military relationship between Dhaka and Riyadh.
However, when asked about the details of the MoU, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali did not elaborate. “You will know when it is signed,” he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave Dhaka at 3:30pm today for Riyadh on a four-day visit at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Ali said.
The foreign minister, among others, will accompany her.
Addressing a pre-departure press conference at State Guesthouse Padma yesterday afternoon, Ali said the prime minister would hold a meeting with the Saudi king tomorrow and the two countries would strike another deal on cooperation in the ICT sector.
He said the PM would inaugurate the newly constructed permanent Chancery building of Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh tomorrow afternoon and was also scheduled to attend a business seminar to be oraganised by the Council of Saudi Chambers.
Hasina will leave for Madina tomorrow night and will offer Fatehah at the “rouza mubarak” (sacred chambers) of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) on Thursday morning.
The PM will then depart Madina for Makkah and perform Umrah on Thursday night.
On the same day, she will also lay the foundation stone of the Bangladesh Consulate in Jeddah on the land Bangladesh has recently purchased.
Hasina will then head for Dhaka in the early hours of Friday.
Ali said at the press conference that Hasina would highlight Bangladesh’s socioeconomic development and the successes and achievements of different sectors in recent years to the Saudi leadership.
She will also discuss Saudi Arabia’s partnership and cooperation in various sectors in Bangladesh for establishing a poverty- and deprivation-free Bangladesh.
Issues regarding labour recruitment from Bangladesh, trade and investment, development cooperation, and prosperity of the Mulsim Ummah, and cooperation in regional and international forums would dominate talks with the Saudi king during the official meeting.
Dhaka was also expecting to sign several MoUs, related to public and private sectors, during the visit.
Speaking to The Daily Star over the phone, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi said that the PM would prioritise new labour recruitment from Bangladesh as the Kingdom takes up new mega projects.
“The PM will stress on streamlining the labour migration process through relevant ministries of the countries.
“She will also seek more investments in Bangladesh, including in solar power, cement, special economic zones, and oil refining,” he said.
In April, Bangladesh Armed Forces for the first time took part in a 22-nation joint military exercise in Saudi Arabia.
Hasina attended the concluding ceremony of the month-long military exercise styled “Gulf Shield -1” in which an 18-member delegation from the Bangladesh Armed Forces participated.