Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave for Moscow on Monday on a three-day visit to Russia – a visit that foreign minister Dipu Moni feels will open ‘a new window of opportunities’ for Bangladesh.
Moni told a news briefing on Sunday that Bangladesh and Russia were slated to focus on ties in the field of nuclear energy, defence and economic cooperation.
Six MoUs and four agreements including one for setting up a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh are likely to be concluded during the Prime Minister’s Russia visit, she said.
The Prime Minister is likely to oversee an agreement on defence purchases worth $1 billion, but the Foreign Minister could not provide the details at the briefing.
The Foreign Minister and State Minister for science & technology Yeafesh Osman will accompany the Prime Minister during the visit.
This would be the first official visit of a Bangladesh Prime Minister to Moscow since Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman visited the erstwhile Soviet Union in April 1972 immediately after Bangladesh became independent.
Sheikh Hasina visited Moscow in 2010 to attend an international summit where she met with her counterpart on the sidelines.
The Foreign Minister recalled the erstwhile Soviet Union’s contribution during the 1971 war of Bangladesh’s independence and in post-war rebuilding of Bangladesh. She said many potential of economic cooperation with post-Soviet Russia have remained ‘untapped’ for a long time.
She said Hasina would hold official talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan 15 and discuss entire gamut of bilateral relations.
During the visit, the MoUs are expected to be signed in the areas of agriculture, health, education, culture, law and justice and counter-terrorism.
The agreement for a $ 500 million State Export Credit to finance the preparatory stage of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will be signed, alongwith an agreement for establishment of a nuclear energy information centre in Dhaka.
A $500 million MoU would also be signed ‘for securing the understanding reached with the Russian side on the key parameters of financing the actual work of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.’
“The State Export Credit for financing defense purchase for USD 1 billion would also be placed for signing,” the Foreign Minister said.
The minister said the visit would also open an opportunities for businesses as there is a market of 180 million customers under the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“If we can push our products in this market, it will strengthen our economic relations,” she said.
The minister said that after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, ‘the successive governments did not cultivate the relationship with Russia.’
“Even those who studied in Russia face trouble in Bangladesh,” she alleged.
On the last day of her visit in Jan 16, the Prime Minister will address the faculty members and students of Moscow State University where Bangabandhu also spoke in 1972.
The Foreign Minister said Prime Minister would reach back home on Jan 17 morning.