Biman to launch flights to Maldives
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Biman Bangladesh Airlines is set to introduce air connectivity with the Maldives via Chennai of India as both the countries agreed to enhance connectivity aimed at increasing bilateral trade and investment.
The number of Bangladesh-Maldives direct flight was enhanced through the commencement of flights by Bangladeshi airlines US-Bangla, she said during the Bangladesh-Maldives bilateral meeting held at the President's Office in Male yesterday.
PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
The Bangladesh PM and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation, especially in health, education, human resources development, youth and sports, fisheries and agriculture, between the two countries and work together to face the challenge of climate change and ensure early repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Hasina said they reviewed the progress made so far on earlier decisions and found the outcome satisfactory.
She said they also discussed regularisation of undocumented Bangladeshi nationals who make substantial contributions to both economies.
The PM said they discussed cooperation in multilateral fora, support for each other's candidatures, and cooperation in countering terrorism.
Hasina said her government would not allow any terrorist activities against Bangladesh and any other country using its soil.
Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also vowed to fight terrorism and extremism together to ensure regional and global prosperity, sustainability and peace.
He said his government would continue support for the early repatriation of the Rohingyas.
Solih thanked the Bangladesh premier for her support during the Covid-19 pandemic and sought initiatives on issuance of on arrival visas for Maldivian citizens.
Describing Bangladesh as a desired destination for Maldivian students, particularly for medical students, the president urged the premier to issue full term visas for the students.
During the talks, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah and NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, among others, were present from Bangladesh's side.
THREE INSTRUMENTS SIGNED
Three instruments were signed and another one was renewed yesterday between Bangladesh and the Maldives.
The instruments are: MoU on Recruitment of Qualified Health Professionals, MoU on Cooperation in the Areas of Youth and Sports Development, Agreement on Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to the Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance.
Besides, the MoU on the Areas of Healthcare and Medical Sciences was renewed.
The signing ceremony was held at the President's Office in Male in presence of the Bangladesh PM and the Maldivian president after the bilateral talks between the two leaders.
Bangladesh also gifted 13 military vehicles to the Maldives as a token of friendship between the two South Asian nations during the ceremony.
On behalf of Bangladesh, Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed made the symbolic handover of the keys of the military vehicles to Maldives Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdullah Shamaal.
After the signing ceremony, Bangladesh prime minister and Maldivian president issued separate statements in a joint briefing.
In the briefing, the two leaders said they had fruitful bilateral talks on promoting trade, investment, and connectivity between the two countries.
In her statement in the joint briefing, Hasina said during the bilateral talks with President Solih she re-emphasised the necessity of a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries and a bilateral investment protection arrangement for mutual facilitation of investment.
About the outcome of the talks, she said, "I am happy to share that we just held a very fruitful discussion on the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations. We reviewed the progress made so far on our earlier decisions and found the outcome satisfactory."
She said that they also discussed cooperation in multilateral fora including countering terrorism.
In his press statement, President Solih said he had fruitful bilateral talks with the Bangladesh premier.
"I look forward to enhancing our interactions on trade and investment," he said.
PM ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT
Addressing the Maldivian national parliament in Male yesterday, Hasina called upon the Maldives government and private sector to be partner in Bangladesh's development journey for mutual benefits.
"I hope that our warm and friendly relations will further be consolidated. Bangladesh is thriving with possibilities and potentials. I call upon both the government and private sector of the Maldives to be our partner in the development journey in the next fifty years for mutual benefit," she said.
Mentioning that no country in the world can prosper in isolation, the premier said the Covid-19 pandemic has taught all that they are interdependent and have to share their experiences for the sake of a better, secured, and prosperous world.
Hasina thanked President Solih for attending the opening celebrations of the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's independence in March.
Maldivian parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and the deputy speaker received the PM on her arrival at the People's Majlis.
The Speaker in his speech highly praised Hasina for her role in leading the developing nations.
The premier later signed the visitors' book and held a meeting with the Speaker of the Maldives parliament.
Hasina arrived in Male on Wednesday on a six-day maiden bilateral visit by a VVIP special Biman flight.