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Dhaka, Tokyo discuss durable solution to Rohingya crisis

  • Published at 08:48 pm May 29th, 2019
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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe at a press conference at his office in Japan on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 BSS

$2.5 billion ODA deal signed for implementing four projects to bolster ties

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Wednesday discussed ways to find a durable and early solution to the humanitarian and political crisis that has emanated from the displacement of over a million Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

Hasina said Japan understands that the solution to this crisis lies in the early, safe and dignified return of the Rohingyas to their homeland in Myanmar, reports UNB.

She said it is necessary for Myanmar to create conducive atmosphere in Rakhine state for the Rohingyas’ return.

"I thank the Japanese government for its generous support to handle the crisis, and for its efforts to support early repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar," she said.

Hasina and Abe reiterated their commitment to take Bangladesh-Japan relations to new a height of cooperation and partnership.

"I'm confident we'll achieve that much more given the excellent understanding and friendship that exist between our two peoples and our governments," said Hasina while delivering her statement at a joint press meet after their bilateral meeting at the Japanese premier’s office in Tokyo.

She said they have also decided to strengthen mutual cooperation in international platforms to fight against terrorism and violent extremism, mitigating risk emanating from climate change, ensuring denuclearisation to keep children safe, and extending support to each other's efforts to expand the horizon of peace and knowledge.

Hasina said Bangladesh has achieved all the criteria to graduate from the least developed country to developing one and they have set their goal to become a developed country by 2041.

"Prime Minister Abe has assured me that Japan will stand by Bangladesh and extend necessary support to reach that goal,” she added.

The prime minister said: "Considering the importance of developing the Southeast of Bangladesh, we've discussed ideas to build quality infrastructures in that region.”

"We believe that international trade and flow of investment are key channels to strengthen economic cooperation. We have put special emphasis on regional stability and peace," she added.

$2.5bn ODA deal signed

After the meeting, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of the 40th Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan Package of $2.5 billion to develop infrastructure and promote investment in Bangladesh, for which Hasina also thanked Abe.

Economic Relations Division Secretary Monowar Ahmed and Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Hiroyasu Izumi signed the deal on behalf of their respective sides.

The four projects, taken under the 40th ODA package deal, are Matarbari Port Development Project (1), Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project (Line 1), Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Project (II) and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Promotion Financing Project (Phase 2).

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina was also given a guard of honour when she reached Abe’s office.

‘Bangladesh has Japan on its side always’

Later in the evening, addressing the official dinner hosted by Abe at his residence, Hasina said Bangladesh always had Japan on its side as a trusted friend and partner in materialising the dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

"In Bangladesh, we're implementing a series of transformational development initiatives to realise the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to build Sonar Bangla or Golden Bangladesh. And in realising his dream, we always had Japan on our side as our trusted friend and partner," she said.

Regarding the bilateral meeting, she said it was marked by deep cordiality, understanding and mutual respect.

"We've agreed to work together to promote deeper cooperation between our two countries. We've identified a number of new areas for collaboration. I'm confident those will provide a further impetus to our growing relations," she said.

On Wednesday morning, the prime minister had attended a meeting with the CEOs of leading Japanese companies who are doing business in Bangladesh.

She mentioned that she was greatly encouraged to see their clear desire to further expand collaboration and break new grounds. "This aspiration is also shared by our business leaders."

Hasina also invited the Japanese prime minister and his wife to visit Bangladesh at their convenient time.

The prime minister arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday — her first visit to Japan after coming to power for the third consecutive term through the 11th general election held on December 30, 2018.

Since 1972, Bangladesh has received $11.3 billion in ODA loans from Japan.

From Tokyo, Hasina is scheduled to go to Jeddah to attend the OIC summit on May 31, and will then go to Finland.

She is scheduled return to Dhaka on June 8 after the Eid-ul-Fitr.