State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam on Sunday said the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) has huge prospects for economic cooperation as much its potentials are still unexplored and unexploited.
He emphasised making all entities of Bimstec Process fully functional and operational.
Also read:PM briefing media on Bimstec summit
The State Minister made the remarks after receiving newly appointed Secretary General of Bimstec Tenzin Lekphell at his Ministry's office.
Shahriar expressed his satisfaction on his appointment as the third Secretary General of Bimstec nominated by Bhutan, the first country to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country.
The State Minister hoped that the Secretary General will be able to play a pivotal role as a bridge among Member States to achieving the goals through early conclusion and implementation of necessary agreements, MoUs and other required legal documents in these sectors to ensure overall development and wellbeing of the peoples of Bimstec region.
Shahriar said Bimstec process needs concerted and quicker efforts and more intense engagements amongst the member states for bringing out the best possible results for the mutual benefits of the peoples of the region.
He stated that it is imperative to forge more realistic partnership and shared endeavours to prosper together through exploitation of the full potentials of this region.
Shahriar Alam stated that Bangladesh, as the Bimstec lead country for Trade, Investment and Development, is strongly committed to strengthen Bimstec Cooperation in this important field.
He added that as a founding member of Bimstec, Bangladesh government is pledge bound to deepening relations with Bimstec member states in all aspects and to strengthen the Bimstec Secretariat in all possible means as well.
Bangladesh has already taken necessary steps to build a new premise for the Secretariat, he further added.
The new Secretary General of Bimstec expressed his deep pleasure to commence his work in Bangladesh as the Secretary General of Bimstec.
He mentioned that he is enjoying the warm hospitality here and passing time with good colleagues.
He thanked the State Minister for giving the opportunity to meet him. He expressed his strong conviction to work for strengthening Bimstec by enhancing the level of cooperation amongst the member states.
The State Minister wished the new Bimstec Secretary General all the success and assured him of all sorts of support from the Government of Bangladesh during his tenure in Bangladesh.
The UK has mobilised $1 billion from global donors to support vulnerable countries access Covid-19 vaccines to stop the virus’ spread amid competition among countries to get the vaccine first.
Bangladesh is expecting vaccines from India by the end of this month or the beginning of February.
Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has requested Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite a shipment of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to Brazil, demonstrating a growing demand for vaccines everywhere.
The UK has helped to raise $1 billion for the coronavirus COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) through match-funding other donors, which combined with the £548 million of UK aid pledged to help distribute one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to 92 developing countries this year.
This vital investment will help stop the spread of the disease and prevent future waves, helping to build back better from coronavirus globally, said the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office on Sunday.
The announcement coincides with a three-day virtual visit to London by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres as part of the UK’s commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary.
Over the last 75 years, the UK has played a leading role in supporting the UN and we are working together to strengthen international collaboration to tackle today’s biggest global challenges, from coronavirus to climate change, the Foreign Office said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it is fitting that on the 75th anniversary of the UN, the UK has led with its allies to make one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine available to vulnerable countries.
"We’ll only be safe from this virus, when we’re all safe – which is why we’re focused on a global solution to a global problem," Raab said.
Also Read- Global COVID-19 cases near 90 million
‘Overcoming global challenges together’
Guterres said that in the midst of a second world war that was far from won, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt - later joined by leaders of China, France, the-then Soviet Union and other allied powers – courageously set out a vision to free the world of fear and want, through cooperation.
This vision became the United Nations and, on this very day 75 years ago, the first meeting of the UN General Assembly was held in London.
Guterres said, "At this time of new global turmoil, I’m honoured to virtually visit the United Kingdom to mark that occasion, renew our cause of overcoming global challenges together, and celebrate a country that was instrumental in creating the United Nations and which remains, today, a crucial member state, not least in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow."
On Monday, the UN Secretary-General will virtually meet with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office Ministers Lord Ahmad, James Cleverly, Lord Goldsmith and Wendy Morton, and the COP26 President Designate, Alok Sharma.
The Secretary-General will also hold discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On the same day, the Secretary-General will attend a COP26 roundtable about clean power, alongside the UK Foreign Secretary, COP26 President Designate, and Ministers from across the world. Since 2011, UK aid has provided over 26 million people with improved access to clean energy and is looking ahead with even higher ambition, having committed to invest £11.6 billion of International Climate Finance from April 2021.
Covid-19 vaccine: ‘No reason for Bangladesh to be worried’
India has said there is no reason for Bangladesh to be concerned over timely receiving vaccine because India has always considered its neighbours on a priority.
"We’ve seen the statement made by the head of the Serum Institute of India. There’s no reason for neighbouring Bangladesh to be concerned because India has always considered its neighbours on a priority basis. This time too, there’ll be no exceptions," a diplomatic source in New Delhi told UNB recently.
Reiterating the highest priority India attaches to Bangladesh under India’s Neighbourhood First Policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a Summit meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on December 17 last year, assured that vaccines would be made available to Bangladesh as and when produced in India.
Both leaders also noted the ongoing bilateral collaboration between the private sector in this area.
India currently has the second-highest number of total confirmed coronavirus cases (10,431,639) after the US the third-highest death at 150,798.
Bangladesh recorded 25 more Covid-19 deaths between Saturday and Sunday morning, taking the national fatality tally to 7,781 – with the mortality rate at 1.49 percent.
Meanwhile, the country also identified 1,071 new cases, taking the local caseload to 522,343. Bangladesh reported its first cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with Serum Institute last month for 30 million doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine. Bangladesh approved the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Jan 7.
Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi on Sunday paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to mark the great leader’s return to an independent and sovereign Bangladesh.
On January 10 in 1972, Bangabandhu stepped into the country after over nine and a half months of captivity in a Pakistan jail.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran called Bangabandhu’s homecoming as the fulfilment of victory.
He recalled the help and assistance that India had extended to Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971.
The high commissioner said Bangabandhu, in his historic address to countless people during a stopover in New Delhi on his way to Dhaka, laid the foundation of the “unique Indo-Bangla relations.”
Two prominent Indian journalists Gautam Lahiri and Soumya Bandyopadhyay took part in the discussion and underscored the importance of further consolidation of the mutually beneficial relationship between Bangladesh and India.
Earlier, the high commissioner laid a floral tribute at the portrait of the Father of the Nation at the mission’s Bangabandhu Corner.
A documentary, edited by the high commissioner, was screened on the occasion.
It featured Bangabandhu’s release from a Pakistani jail on January 8, his arrival in London, meeting with former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Bangabandhu’s press conference in London, his stopover in New Delhi before finally landing in Dhaka on January 10 and his speech before a sea of people at the then Race Course Maidan.
A moment of silence was observed, followed by special prayers, in memory of Bangabandhu.
British Foreign and Development Office (FCDO) Minister for South Asia and Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmed has said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Bangabandhu is "an inspiration" not just to the Bengali community across the world but to many who fight for liberty and democracy.
He said Bangabandhu laid the foundation of a strong partnership and deep friendship that Bangladesh-UK has been enjoying in the past five decades since his maiden visit to the UK on 08 January 1972.
Lord Ahmed said that Bangabandhu’s founding vision of a democratic, secular and inclusive Bangladesh was an inspiring one; and the UK would remain a critical partner of Bangladesh seeking to support peace and prosperity for all its people led by the able leader of Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The British Minister made the remarks at an event organised by Bangladesh High Commission, London recently commemorating the historic maiden visit of Bangabandhu to the United Kingdom on 8 January 1972 en route his heroic homecoming to independent Bangladesh following his release form 9-month long imprisonment in Pakistan.
Speaking as the chief guest, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangabandhu’s stopover in London before he reached independent Bangladesh and subsequent meetings with the then British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and opposition and Labour Leader Sir William Harold demonstrated friendship from both the ruling conservative government as well as the opposition labour party and unconditional love from his Bangladeshi-British brethren.
Dr Momen said Bangabandhu’s 8 January official meeting with Sir Edward Heath not only set in stone a strong Bangladesh-UK friendship to grow in leaps and bounds over the next 50 years, but also paved the way for Bangladesh’s official recognition by Britain on 4 February 1972.
High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem paid homage to the Father of the Nation and said Bangabandhu’s 08 January visit to the UK and his official meeting at No 10 Downing Street where he was recognised by Prime Minister Edward Heath as the President of independent Bangladesh, was in fact de facto diplomatic recognition by the then Conservative Government of a just liberated Bangladesh, and a testimony to the special status that a Statesman like Bangabandhu enjoyed with Britain.
She paid a special tribute to the Bangladesh-British community who had never failed to demonstrate their love and support to the Bangabandhu during his 1969 Agartala Conspiracy case by sending British QC Thomas Williams as his defence counsel and organising the most powerful ‘Release Bangabandhu’ political rallies at the Trafalgar Square during Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971.”
She also quoted from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the occasion of the Bangabandhu Birth Centenary, in which Johnson wished that Bangabandhu’s inspiring founding vision of a democratic, free, secular and inclusive Bangladesh would continue to guide Bangladesh during the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2021 and beyond.
He hoped that the UK government, its people and British-Bangladeshi expatriate would extend their continued appreciation, understanding, cooperation and support in our pursuit of a democratic, secular, self-reliant, inclusive middle-income Bangladesh by 2021 and developed economy by 2041 under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer MP paid his deep tribute to Bangabandhu and said, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a great statement who spent 14 years imprisonment for fighting to establish civil, political and cultural rights of his people and leading his country towards independence.”
Sir Keir recalled the meeting between Bangabandhu and former British Labour Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson and said that he was incredibly proud that the two great leaders shared a rare friendship based on their belief on equality and justice; and that bond provided a strong platform for the friendship and relationship between the British people and people of Bangladesh.
Representing Conservative Party Chair Amanda Milling, Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party Ms. Nickie Aiken MP said the bond Bangabandhu had established with the UK since his stopover in London on 08 January 1972 would continue to guide the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UK in the post-Brexit and post-Covid era.
She said, “I understand that Prime Minister Boris Jonson will be working more closely with Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to optimise bilateral trade and investment and facing risks from climate change."
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Lisa Nandy said she is immensely proud of her Bengali-British heritage as her father was a Bengali and reframed her Labour Party’s commitment to work closely with Bangladesh High Commission as well as with the British-Bangladeshi community to celebrate Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and the 50th year of Bangladesh independence and Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relationship.
Following the discussion, Dr Momen and Lord Ahmed jointly inaugurated the ‘Bangabandhu Library’ established at the Bangladesh High Commission London, marking the historic day of Bangabandhu’s maiden visit to the UK and the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation.
High Commissioner Tasneem on inauguration of the Bangabandhu Library said, “We are proud to name this High Commission’s conference room as the Bangabandhu Library to honour the Father of the Nation and Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who procured this High Commission building in 1973 as the first Bangladesh diplomatic asset overseas. The Library will remain open for all British people who would like to do research on the Bangabandhu”.
A documentary on the Father of the Nation was screened at the beginning of the event titled, “Bangabandhu and Britain: A special relationship” that followed a cultural presentation of sarod recital and dance titled “Bangabandhu the Brave heart: A Veer Rasa”, by renowned classical musician Rajrupa Chowdhury and prominent perfuming artist from Bangladesh Sadia Islam Mou and her troupe.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford as special guest.
Eminent parliamentarians, senior members of the House of Lords, ambassadors, renowned British journalists and senior UK Foreign Office officials addressed the event titled “Bangabandhu & Britain: And the Historic 8 January", paying their profound homage to Bangabandhu and recalling his special relationship with British Government, its Conservative and Labour Prime Ministers in early 70s and with the British-Bangladeshi expatriates.
Chair of Conservative Friends of India, Seema Malhotra, MP, Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar, Human Rights Lawyer Cherie Blair CBE QC, Former Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen and Chief Executive, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Samantha Cohen CVO, former Bangladesh Ambassador Mohiuddin Ahmed, former BBC journalist William Crawley, organiser of Bangladesh Liberation War overseas freedom movement in the UK Sultan Mahmud Sharif and Conservative member of the London Assembly and candidate for London Mayor Shaun Baily participated in the discussions.
Hundreds of expatriate Bangladeshis from the UK and Ireland joined the commemorative event paying their tribute to the Father of the Nation, said the High Commission on Sunday.
The Embassy of Bangladesh in Rome, Italy has honoured five expatriate Bangladeshis and a business organisation with “Remittance Award".
The five individual awardees of 2020 are Kartik Chandra Ghosh, Syed Abdullah Al Mahmood, Md. Safi Ullah, Kamrul Hasan and MehenasTabbasum.
Meanwhile, Bangla SRL has won the Award in the 'organization category'.
They received the award as the top remittance senders to Bangladesh from Italy between July 2019-June 2020.
Md. Shameem Ahsan, Bangladesh Ambassador to Italy, handed over the awards among the recipients.
The event was held on Thursday on the occasion of “International Migrants Day 2020”.
Bangladesh Embassy in Rome launched "Remittance Award" in 2019 to encourage and promote remittances to Bangladesh through legal channels, said the Embassy on Sunday.
The International Migrants Day, which falls on 18 December, could not be organised on the designated day due to unavoidable reasons.
Officers and officials of the Mission and awardees were present at the event.
In view of the severity of covid-19 pandemic in Italy, the programme was organised in an in-house setting with the minimum presence in compliance with the strict Health Advisory of the host country.
Also read:No good news yet from Italy: FM about expats' return
Messages of the President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment were read out.
At the beginning of the discussion session, Md. ArfanulHaque, Counselor (Labor Welfare) of the Embassy made a presentation on various activities undertaken by the Government of Bangladesh for the protection of the rights of expatriates, their welfare and to encourage sending more remittances through legal channels.
The awardees also spoke and sincerely thanked the Embassy for the recognition.
Also read:Pandemic exposes the vulnerability of Italy's 'new poor'
Ambassador Ahsan warmly congratulated all the awardees while acknowledging the significant contribution being made by the Bangladesh Diaspora for the buoyancy of the economy of the country by sending valuable remittances.
While paying deep tribute to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he said that the present government is an expatriate-friendly government and highlighted the major steps taken by the present Government in the context of the slogan of the Mujib Year.
Ahsan mentioned that during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh nationals who were stranded in different countries were brought back to the country and financial assistance was provided by the government to those who lost their jobs.
The Ambassador added that the Embassy was working hard to solve problems relating to passports and improve the quality of service delivery.