Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali held the talks, second in two years, with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday.
The foreign ministry said at a press briefing held in the Osovnyak Palace of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ali praised the economic progress of both the countries and appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Vladimir Putin for their “farsightedness and charismatic” role for global development and prosperity.
Ali felicitated his counterpart for the landslide victory of Putin in the recently held presidential election and reminded him of the invitations to both Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev to visit Bangladesh.
He reiterated the strong admiration of the people of Bangladesh for the Russian Federation because of the valued support and contribution received from the people of the then Soviet Union during the Liberation War in 1971 and for the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts after independence.
The foreign minister described the recent graduation of Bangladesh from the LDC status to the category of the developing country.
But, Ali spoke of how the possibility of outstanding economic and social development tempo of Bangladesh may face the challenge by the enormous arrival of forcibly displaced Rohingya people from Myanmar.
He informed Lavrov how Bangladesh is helping with everything in its capacity to assist Rohingyas from Myanmar “at a great financial, social and environmental cost on humanitarian consideration and goodwill gestures of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina”.
He briefed Lavrov on the latest developments and the measures taken by the government of Bangladesh for the rehabilitation of the displaced Myanmar nationals and sought the active cooperation of the Russian Federation and all others to resolve the issue.
Lavrov praised the efforts by Bangladesh and considered the recent engagements of Myanmar and the proposed inclusion of UN agencies and UNHCR in the rehabilitation arrangement as good signs towards resolving the problem.
Both the ministers were happy with the progress of the project for implementing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant under the state export credit extended by the Russian Federation.
The Russian foreign minister assured Bangladesh of the timely completion of the project and training of the essential scientific and technical personnel.
The two ministers were also pleased with the successful operations of Gazprom in different gas fields of Bangladesh, and the Russian side promised the engagement of Gazprom in the energy sector.
Regarding the ‘Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific & Technical Cooperation’, Ali and Lavrov agreed to determine date and venue of the first meeting of the commission.
In the meeting, the upward trend of two-way bilateral trade which is now worth $1.64 billion was emphasised.
Ali urged Russia to allow duty and quota-free access of Bangladeshi products to the Russian market. Lavrov recommended approaching the issue through the platform of Eurasian Economic Union.
A MoU on general cooperation between Bangladesh government and Eurasian Economic Commission is to be signed very soon, the foreign ministry said.
The foreign ministers discussed current and possible future cooperation on the issues like fight against terrorism and violent extremism, human rights, poverty alleviation, culture and import of agricultural products, and fight against cybercrime.
Lavrov said during the forthcoming OIC foreign ministers’ meet in Dhaka, Russia will be represented by its deputy foreign minister.
The meeting was followed by a joint press briefing and a working lunch.