Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero expressed his hope that Messi would visit Bangladesh. "I have been received here with so much emotion and love, the Argentine national team will certainly feel that warmth manifold. Despite the busy schedule of the national team, Messi and the team would appreciate that warmth of the people in Bangladesh." he said.

The minister arrived in Dhaka on a three-day visit on Monday with the purpose of starting up the diplomatic mission of Argentina in Bangladesh. He spoke to Prothom Alo in an interview on Tuesday about opening the embassy in Dhaka and other issues.

Santiago Cafiero was aware through the media of how much the people of Bangladesh loved Argentina, despite being 17,000 km away, and how enthusiastic they were about the Argentine football team. To them, Argentina meant the blue and white jersey, it meant Maradona and it meant Messi.

Argentina was reopening its embassy in Bangladesh after 45 years. When would Lionel Messi be visiting Bangladesh? In reply, the Argentine minister said, "The moment I arrived in Dhaka on Monday, I grasped just how deeply the people here love Argentina. All over the Argentine flag is flying, people are wearing our national football team jersey. When I see all this, I don't feel I am outside of Argentina at all! When I return to Buenos Aires, I will convey the love of the Bangladeshi people to Messi and the team."

The Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero said, "The two countries have cultural ties. This is a bond forged by Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo (the Argentine writer, intellectual and literary critic who also stood by Bangladesh during the liberation war). Football has consolidated this closeness, no doubt. Alongside football, it is to strengthen trade and cultural ties too that after an interval of 45 years, Argentina is opening its embassy in Dhaka again."

Santiago Cafiero said, there is no doubt that football and the love of the Bangladeshi people for Argentina has expedited the decision to open the embassy. During discussions with Bangladesh's foreign minister AK Abdul Momen in New York last year, the issue of reopening the mission in Dhaka was raised. Actually, it is the people who play a major role in international relations. Sometimes politics must be put behind and people's aspirations given priority.

Argentina's foreign minister said that a representative of River Plate, one of Argentina's top football clubs, was part of his delegation to Dhaka. He received positive response regarding cooperation between the football clubs of the two countries. "I hope that scope will be created in areas such as exchange of experiences, technical cooperation and training," he said.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen receives the Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero at the airport

Mentioning that Argentina was the world champion in football and Bangladesh was doing well in cricket, Santiago Cafiero said there could be cooperation in this area. Argentina had a national cricket team, though nowhere near Bangladesh in standard. Bangladesh could assist Argentina is this regard. The people of Argentina had a Faceboook page as a memento of their love for Bangladesh's cricket team.

Bangladesh is one of the top garment exporters in the world. Like every year, this time too the jerseys of many of the countries contending in the World Cup were made in Bangladesh. Santiago Cafiera said they had discussed a wide array of trade possibilities between the two countries, including football jerseys.

The representative of a food manufacturing company had discussions with senior representatives of the supershop Unimart. Very soon food produced in Argentina would be available to consumers in Bangladesh through Unimart.

Santiago Cafiera said, Argentina was always keen about Bangladesh's microcredit concept. That is why Argentina was paying attention to financial inclusion and social entrepreneurs. They were in discussions with the NGO BRAC regarding cooperation in this area.

* The report appeared in print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir