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Dhaka Sunday,  Dec 4, 2022

Lavrov’s Dhaka visit: Dhaka To Focus On Food, Energy Supply, Rohingya Crisis

Facing global isolation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov may seek Bangladesh’s support during his visit here next week, while Dhaka will focus on Rohingya crisis, food supply and energy cooperation.

Lavrov will visit Bangladesh to attend the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) meeting on November 23-24 to be held at Hotel InterContinental at the invitation of Bangladesh, the current chair of IORA.

Ministers and top officials of 23 member countries, and 10 dialogue partners including the US, UK, Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Turkey will be attending the event, foreign ministry officials said.

Lavrov, who happily accept the invitation, will also be meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, officials have confirmed.

His visit to Dhaka draws significant attention as the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent Western sanctions left energy, fertiliser, and food supply in disarray and caused inflation worldwide.

International relations analysts said Russia faces global isolation. The UN General Assembly has adopted several resolutions since March this year demanding end to the war, territorial integrity of Ukraine and Russia’s reparation for the damages caused by attacks in Ukraine.

Bangladesh has abstained from voting in two UNGA resolutions and voted for Ukraine in one.

“It is only natural that Russian foreign minister will seek Bangladesh’s support in the global stage,” said Prof Syeda Rozana Rashid of Dhaka University’s international relations department.

She said Russia is a trusted friend of Bangladesh and had strongly supported Bangladesh during the Liberation War when the US took the side of Pakistan. But global geopolitics has changed a lot.

The US and European Union are Bangladesh’s major export destinations and they are supporting Bangladesh in the Rohingya crisis, politically and financially.

However, they frequently speak about the country’s democracy, governance, freedom of press, and human rights situation.

On the other hand, Bangladesh’s export to Russia is relatively small. Bangladesh imports wheat from Russia and is implementing Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant with Russian support.

Prof Rozana said while Bangladesh faces huge pressure for the Rohingya crisis, Russia has been selling arms to Myanmar and has not played any role in addressing the crisis at the UN Security Council.

“The equation of diplomatic relationship with different countries, therefore, has become difficult,” she said.

Still, she said, Bangladesh needs to strike a balance between its relationship with Russia and the Western countries.

“Obviously, we will seek Russia’s support in addressing the Rohingya crisis,” a foreign ministry official said.

Bangladesh has recently signed an agreement on importing 5 lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia, and its supply is ongoing, he said.

“… We will see how we can get Russian support on energy,” the official said.

Bangladesh is facing problems in paying Russia for the equipment in Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, implementation of which has become slow due to sanctions against Russia. Fund from Russia also dwindled, the official added.

“We will discuss ways to address the issue and speed up the implementation of the project.”

From The Daily Star

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