Dhaka, Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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Cambodia tour will bolster bilateral ties: PM

DHAKA, Dec 7, 2017 (BSS) - Describing her just-concluded official visit to Cambodia as very successful and fruitful, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said it would further deepen the bilateral relations and cooperation.

"I think this tour will help take the ties between Bangladesh and Cambodia to a new height," she told a press conference at her official Ganabhaban residence here this afternoon.

The press conference was convened to brief the media about the outcome of the visit of the premier to Cambodia.

Pointing out her bilateral official talks with her Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, the prime minister said they discussed in detail the bilateral cooperation in various fields like trade, investment, agriculture, fisheries, tourism and information technology.

While talking about the Rohingya issue, she said, the Cambodian premier highly appreciated Bangladesh for giving shelter to the forcibly evicted Rohingya people.

"The Cambodian premier gave a positive response to my request about a sustainable solution to the crisis," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Cambodian Premier Hun Sen extended his support to Bangladesh's candidature to be a 'sectoral dialogue partner' of the ASEAN, while he assured of giving full support to Bangladesh's joining the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation Forum.

The premier said during her visit Bangladesh and Cambodia signed 10 instruments -- an agreement and nine memorandums of understanding (MoUs) -- to boost trade and investment relations as well as enhance cooperation in various fields like tourism, agriculture, civil aviation, ICT and technical education.

The two countries inked the deal on cooperation between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce.

On the other hand, the MoUs inked are on cooperation in the field of tourism, aquaculture and fisheries, information and communication technology and related industry, and on cooperation between the governments of Bangladesh and Cambodia concerning labour and vocational training.

MoUs concerning cooperation and collaboration in the preservation of war history, war monuments and war relics; the modalities for institutional cooperation under the joint trade council; cooperation and collaboration on matters related to implementation of the 2030 SDGs were also signed.

Besides, MoUs were on academic cooperation between Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and the International Relations Institute of Cambodia as well as on institutional cooperation on promotion of investment between Bangladesh Investment Authority and the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, among others, were present, while PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim moderated the press conference.


The prime minister said Cambodia is one of the most friendly nations among the South-East Asian countries and a historical, religious, cultural and linguistic close relations exist between Bangladesh and Cambodia since the ancient period.

"Both the countries got their independence through a blood spattered liberation war breaking the colonial rule and oppression during the 1970s," she said.

Sheikh Hasina recalled that the two countries endured genocide and war crimes against humanity and stood up with their heads high before the world community.

She remembered that the relations between the two countries began the journey after a meeting between Bangabandhu and late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk at the NAM Summit held in Algiers in 1973.

The premier said there are similarities in socioeconomic development of the two countries and both the nations reached closer to becoming middle income states.

"That's why, Bangladesh and Cambodia will both benefit through their effective cooperation," she said.

The prime minister said after arriving at Phnom Penh on December 3, she paid homage to the war heroes and the late King Norodom Sihanouk by laying wreaths at the Independence Monument and Monument of the late King.

She also visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where historical evidence of the civil war in Cambodia has been preserved.

About the formal bilateral meeting between the two sides, the prime minister said entire gamut of bilateral issues including issues on further enhancing trade and investment, cooperation on agriculture, fisheries, civil aviation, ICT, labour and vocational training, aquaculture and tourism came up for discussion.

Both sides, she said, decided to hold the first foreign minister-level meeting on Joint Commission in the first half of next year aiming to deepen diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Besides, they also agreed to hold the first meeting of the Joint Trade Council next year to infuse dynamism into the trade relations, she added.

Sheikh Hasina said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed for holding foreign ministry-level review meeting on regular basis.

She said the two leaders agreed to take necessary measures for deepening trade and investment relations considering the huge potential on bilateral trade and investment.

About her proposal for simplification of visa for Bangladeshi businessmen, Sheikh Hasina said Hun Sen agreed to provide long term visa facility with multiple entries for the businessmen.

Besides, the two sides are also considering a proposal for opening of resident diplomatic missions in each other's capital, she said.

The prime minister said an announcement was made for naming the Baridhara Park Road in Dhaka after late King Norodom Sihanouk and naming Road No 337 of the Cambodian capital after Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Hasina said during the visit she also paid a courtesy call on the Cabodian King Norodom Sihamoni at the Royal Palace.

She also held meetings with National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Senate President Pheakdey Say Chhum, while half brother of the current King and President of FUNCINPEC Party Prince Norodom Ranariddh called on her.

Sheikh Hasina said she also attended a business dialogue arranged by the Cambodian Chamber where she called upon the businessmen to explore the opportunity and potential for boosting trade and investment between the two countries.