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PM’s UK visit to add new dimension: FM

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Staff Reporter

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Sunday said the existing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the United Kingdom will get a ‘new dimension’ with the top-level talks between the two countries during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s UK visit.

“The bilateral meeting to be held with British Prime Minister David Cameron is very significant. We expect fruitful discussions on all bilateral issues at the meeting,” he told reporters at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry saying the ties between the two countries will be deepened further.

He, however, did not tell the issues that would come up prominently during the meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her British counterpart David Cameron.

“Let’s discuss first. We’ll get back to you with the outcome after the discussion,” Mahmood Ali said without elaborating the agenda of the talks.

The press conference was arranged to brief the media about Prime Minister’s three-day UK visit. State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki also spoke at the press conference.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, Foreign Ministry Director Generals (DGs) M Mahfuzur Rahman, Saida Muna Tasneem and Salahuddin Noman Chowdhury were, among others, present.

Asked whether politics and the January-5 elections would be there in the agenda, the Foreign Minister did not answer directly but referred to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament on January 16 last.

He read out three points of the 11-point resolution one of which mentions - ‘Believes that, in the interest of Bangladesh’s future, parties having a democratic reputation need to develop a culture of mutual respect; urges the BNP to unequivocally distance itself from Jamaat-e-Islami and Hafezat-e-Islam.’

The Foreign Minister said the relations between Bangladesh and western countries are moving ahead in a good pace. “Even the European Union has decided to increase its grants for Bangladesh.”

Responding to another question, Mahmood Ali said if anybody (BNP supporters) wants to stage any demonstration there, they can do that peacefully. “But they won’t be able to carry out violence there the way they do here in Bangladesh.”

He in a hilarious mood also wanted to know from a questioner whether they (London BNP leaders) got reply to their letter written to David Cameron (requesting him not to meet PM Hasina).

The Foreign Minister and the State Minister for Women and Children Affairs will take part in a number of high-level sessions at the summit and uphold Bangladesh’s position.

A 20-member delegation, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will leave Dhaka for London on Monday morning to attend the Girl Summit 2014 to be hosted jointly by British government and Unicef.

Hasina will hold meetings with a number of UK ministers and opposition’s shadow ministers apart from holding talks with her British counterpart David William Donald Cameroon at 10 Downing Street.

She will attend the high-level session of the Summit on Tuesday and interact with First Lady Chantal Compaore of Burkina Faso, a West African Country and Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

The Summit is aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage within a generation.

Bangladesh government views child marriage as a development concern that slows down the country's socioeconomic progress.

At the summit, Bangladesh will also focus on the progress it has made in reducing maternal mortality, improving maternal health and promotion of girl education.