Dhaka, Dec 7 (UNB) - Experts both from Bangladesh and China are all set to get together at a symposium in the city on Saturday to assess the Bangladesh-China relationship in the present context and identify the challenges and opportunities.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, will host the symposium titled ‘Bangladesh-China Relations: Prognosis for the Future’ at Six Seasons Hotel.
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo will attend the event as the chief guest while Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan will deliver the welcome speech.
Principal Research Fellow at Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore and a former Adviser to Bangladesh’s previous caretaker government Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury will chair the inaugural session.
Ahead of the event, Ambassador Zuo said China and Bangladesh have always remained good friends during the 43 years of their diplomatic relations.
“Especially, after the successful state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in October, 2016, the China-Bangladesh relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership of Cooperation, and thus started a new chapter in our bilateral relations,” he told UNB, media partner of the event.
The symposium will be part of the Cosmos Foundation’s ‘Dialogue’ series, in which a high-level expert panel is tasked with tackling a particularly pressing issue of the day, followed by the participation of an informed and engaging audience.
The panel will comprise of Prof Li Tao, Executive Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at Sichuan University in China; Yuan Jirong, Chief Journalist at the India Bureau of the People’s Daily; historian and media personality Afsan Chowdhury; and Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor at the Department of International Relations of Dhaka University.
In 2017, the bilateral trade value between the two countries reached US$ 16 billion, 5.8 percent higher than last year’s, with China remaining the number one trade partner of Bangladesh, according to the Chinese Embassy here.
In the first half of this year, data shows, the bilateral trade value stands at US$ 9.35 billion, with a growth rate of 17.6 percent year on year.
China and Bangladesh share close people-to-people bond, similar national realities, and complementary development goals.
“We would like to preserve our friendship with the people of Bangladesh for generations to come, and we’re ready to give Bangladesh a higher priority in China’s diplomacy, in order to become great partners of win-win cooperation, great friends with openness and inclusiveness, close brothers for opening up and innovations, and good neighbours who learn from each other,” said Ambassador Zuo.
The people of Bangladesh and China are bound together by ancient ties though the formal diplomatic relations commenced in 1975 and the state in both countries has shown itself to be sensitive to the historic depth of people-to-people contact.
Dhaka, Dec 7 (UNB) - Bangladesh Ambassador in The Hague Sheikh Mohammed Belal has been elected member of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) for next three years.
The 17th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), held recently in The Hague, elected him in a vote by 123 nations.
Ambassador Belal was a candidate nominated and supported by the government of Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh’s history of its own sacrifice and endurance as a victim of genocide, during her War of Liberation in 1971, had always encouraged Bangladesh to work for the cause of victims and for their reparations, where possible," he told UNB.
Ambassador Belal said this election could, therefore, be seen as an acknowledgement of international community’s trust and confidence in Bangladesh.
The fact that he was the only nominee from the group of the Asian states, is a testimony to Ambassador Belal’s highly professional and successful work in The Hague in different international organizations as well, said the Bangladesh Embassy in The Hague.
Ambassador Belal previously also served, first ever for Bangladesh, as Chairperson of the Executive Council of the OPCW for the period from 2015 to 2017.
He also served as Facilitator of the ICC for a term in 2015-2016 for the Victims’ portfolio.
The five seats on the ICC TFV Board of Directors are distributed according to the five major world regions.
The International Criminal Court seeks to ensure justice for victims not only through criminal trials but also by helping them through the Trust Fund to overcome the physical and psychological suffering they have endured.
The Board of Directors will be responsible for managing the fund and fundraising.
The TVF has two mandates: providing assistance to victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes) and to the victim’s families; and implementing Court-ordered reparations. TFV activities are funded through voluntary contributions by states and donations by private donors, and through fines and forfeitures.
The Trust Fund for Victims had eminent personalities like Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan; Oscar Arias Sanchez, former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Laureate; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of South Africa and Nobel Peace Laureate as its members previously.
The seventeenth session of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC in The Hague also marked the twentieth anniversary of the International Criminal Court where Bangladesh also got elected as a member of the Bureau, an Executive Boday comprising 21 out of 123 state parties, for the first time since its joining to the ICC in 2010.
Dhaka, Dec 6 (UNB) – The government and the World Bank on Thursday signed a total of US $525 million loan agreement with a view to improving connectivity and climate resilience through building, maintaining and improving roads and rural bridges.
The US$ 425 million "Operation for Rural Bridges Program" will be implemented to improve connectivity and climate resilience in 19 coastal districts supporting efforts existing by the government through rehabilitation of 29000 meters of bridges adding 20000 meters of new bridges in 61 districts across Bangladesh.
Additionally the government also signed US$ 100 million financing pact with the International Development Association (IDA) to implement "Second Rural Transportation Improvement Project" (RTIP-II) to support the rehabilitation of 1433 km of Upazila and Union roads damaged by natural disasters in 2017 as well as maintenance of some 6000 km of rural roads in 26 districts.
Mahmuda Begum, Additional Secretary of Economic Relations Divisions (ERD) and Quimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal signed the agreements on behalf of the government and the World Bank respectively at Economic Relations Division in the city.
"Bangladesh has an extensive rural connection" said Qimiao Fan mentioning that rural bridges play a key role in Bangladesh's development hence an efficient rural road network can have a big effect in improving rural livelihoods.
He lauded the government's efforts of backing climate resilient structures and putting resources to the cause.
"By enabling greater connectivity, these two projects will help rural communities to gain safer access for schools, health facilities and markets," he added.
Mahmuda Begum said both the projects will contribute to greater connectivity for rural communities and boosting growth.
The credit form the World Bank's IDA with zero-interest loan has a 30-year term including a five-year grace period with a service charge of 0.75 percent.
The "Operations for Supporting Rural Bridges" will be implemented by December 31, 2023 and RTIP-II project by June 30, 2021 while Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) being in charge.
Senior government officials and World Bank were also present at the signing ceremony.
Dhaka, Dec 6 (UNB) – US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller has urged Myanmar to address the root causes of Rohingya crisis expressing strong support to hold accountable those responsible persons for the atrocities committed against Rohingyas in Myanmar.
“It’s Myanmar’s responsibility to address the root causes of the refugee crisis, including providing the Rohingya access to citizenship, freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, and other key recommendations of the Annan Commission,” he said.
The US envoy made the remarks in a statement as he completed his first visit to Cox’s Bazar on Thursday during which he visited several Rohingya camps and Bangladesh host communities from December 4.
He heard heartbreaking stories from recently arrived refugees and consulted with UN and government officials and NGO representatives on current issues and future challenges in the refugee response.
The visit to Cox’s Bazar by US Ambassador to Bangladesh signifies the importance of the Rohingya refugee issue to the United States, said the US Embassy in Dhaka.
He described Bangladesh as a strategic US partner in the region and characterized the strong US-Bangladesh relationship as one driven by common interests.
Ambassador Miller highlighted US sanctions against five Myanmar military and border guard police generals as well as two Myanmar military units.
He welcomed Bangladesh’s continued commitment to returns that are fully voluntary, safe, dignified, and based on informed consent.
The US has provided nearly $346 million to assist Rohingyas and host communities in Bangladesh affected by the displacement since the current crisis started in August 2017, said the US Embassy in Dhaka.
In addition, the US contributes more than $200 million annually in development assistance.
The US Ambassador went to Konarpara to see the internally displaced Rohingya sheltering in no-man’s land, where a tall border fence has been built just behind them.
He visited a number of refugee camp facilities, including health clinics, food distribution points, counter trafficking and disaster shelters, and learning centers, in both Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts, where he gained an appreciation for the complexity and enormity of the relief effort.
In all of his meetings, Ambassador Miller expressed US gratitude and admiration for the extraordinary generosity of the Bangladesh people in sheltering the more than 700,000 Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017, said the Embassy.
Ambassador Miller presented his credentials to President M Abdul Hamid on November 29.
Dhaka, Dec 6 (UNB) - Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali on Thursday said Bangladesh and India have been able to consolidate the friendly bilateral relations to a new level which is well beyond the “strategic partnership”, under the leadership of two Prime Ministers.
“We count on India’s assistance in furthering our successes. Together, we would build cherished ‘Shonar Bangla’ [Golden Bengal]. That would be the best tribute we can pay to our martyrs and freedom fighters. And, of course, Bangladesh’s success will be your success, as you were directly involved in the birth of our nation,” he said.
High Commissioner Muazzem Ali said this at a seminar commemorating Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Thursday.
JNU and India Foundation, a think tank, jointly organised the seminar, said the High Commission in New Delhi.
JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagades Kumar and India Foundation director Maj Gen Dhruv Kotoch also spoke at the event.
Muazzem Ali said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is ‘doing miracle in her mission’ of building ‘Shonar Bangla’, the dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He said Bangabandhu’s bold and visionary leadership showed Bangladesh how to stand up from a war-ravaged situation and his able daughter current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is doing miracle in the mission of completing her father’s unfinished tasks.
“The contributions of these two great leaders of Bangladesh, the father and the daughter, have been best described by none other than the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, who said, “Bangabandhu founded Bangladesh and his daughter Sheikh Hasina saved it”, said the freedom fighter-turned diplomat.
He said Bangladesh, under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina, is today one of the fastest growing economies in the world with 7.86 percent GDP growth.
“Bangladesh is now often mentioned as a ‘model of economic development’. Recently, we have qualified for the graduation from LDC status to the status of a Middle-Income Country. Our ultimate pursuit is to emerge as a developed country by 2041,” said Muazzem Ali.
Recalling with gratitude India’s wholehearted support to Bangladesh Liberation War, the envoy paid homage to the brave Indian soldiers who had laid down their lives for the independence of Bangladesh.
He also paid tributes to the valiant war veterans who had fought side by side with them in War of Independence in 1971.
The envoy told the seminar that the Bangladesh Prime Minister, during her last visit to India in April 2017, honoured members of the families of Indian martyrs through an unprecedented Sommanona or honour giving ceremony in Delhi.
Some more families of the war martyrs will be honoured at the upcoming Victory Day on December 16 at the Eastern Command in Kolkata, he said.
Bangladesh also honoured with the “Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War Award” all its friends who had extended their support and cooperation to our War of Liberation.
“The emotional bonds stemming from the invaluable contributions of the government and people of India during our Liberation War remain a dominant factor in Bangladesh political, cultural and social wave,” said Muazzem Ali.