Argentina reopens embassy after 45yrs

Argentina reopens embassy after 45yrs
Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam cutting a ribbon to inaugurate the former’s embassy building in the capital’s Banani yesterday. Photo: Courtesy

Overwhelmed by Bangladesh's support for the Argentine football team that went on to win the FIFA World Cup 2022, Argentina reopened its embassy in Dhaka yesterday, 45 years after it had closed it.

"The people of Bangladesh never forgot to show love for Argentina. So, we today humbly came here and reopened the embassy in Bangladesh as a new channel to cement our relations," Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero said, inaugurating the embassy in the city's Banani in the afternoon.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Cafiero raised the flags of Bangladesh and Argentina and sang the national anthems before cutting a ribbon to inaugurate the embassy building.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen welcomed Cafiero at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 8:00am.

In the evening, the two ministers held a meeting and Momen later hosted a dinner for the Argentine delegation.

Cafiero, who is leading a 20-member business delegation, will meet Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina and Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi today.

He said the bond between the two countries started long before -- with the relationship between the great poet Rabindranath Tagore and Argentine author Victoria Ocampo.

Argentina recognised Bangladesh in 1973 and then opened its embassy a year later. However, in 1977, an Argentine dictator closed the embassy.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is the world's 35th economy which definitely attracted Argentina to reopen its embassy here, but the love of Bangladeshis for Argentine football also was a triggering factor.

Immediately after the World Cup football campaign by the Argentina team, Hasina congratulated the Argentine president.

"This is an example of how people can inspire us to deepen the diplomatic, economic and political relationships," Shahriar Alam said.

"Reopening the embassy is not only a diplomatic gesture but an emotional one as well. It is a reflection of the strong bond of friendship that exists between our peoples," he said.

In 2022, the bilateral trade between the two nations was $765 million. Argentine exports reached $742.9 million and imports from Bangladesh totalled $22.1 million.

Cafiero said while trade is definitely an issue why Argentina is reopening its embassy, it is the love and dignity for people that are especially needed in times of war and austerity.

"Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service… Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might," Cafiero read stanzas from Tagore, before ending his address.

On the day, Bangladesh and Argentina signed a visa exemption agreement for diplomatic and official passports, an agreement to facilitate football training and cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding between the foreign service academies in the field of diplomatic training.

"I am confident the agreements will lead to fruitful cooperation," Foreign Minister Momen told reporters after a meeting at the state guest house Jamuna.

He said they had extensive discussions and exchanged views and ideas on how to expand the existing bilateral relations as well as explore new and emerging areas of cooperation.

Momen told the Argentine minister that Bangladesh significantly improved its infrastructure, and streamlined regulations and that the country's strategic location, skilled workforce, and abundant natural resources make it an attractive destination for business and investment.

The country also is building 100 specialised economic zones to attract private investments, he said, inviting Argentina to consider investments here.