Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov due today

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov
Reuters file photo

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is arriving in Bangladesh this afternoon for less than 24 hours from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

He will sit in a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at a hotel in the evening today, Thursday.

Lavrov will also make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence, Ganabhaban, on 8 September before leaving for Delhi to attend the G-20 summit in the afternoon that day.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Moscow on Wednesday said the visit is very significant as this is the first trip to Bangladesh by any foreign minister of Russia. Alongside bilateral relations, the context of Russia-Ukraine war and political cooperation between the two sides ahead of the upcoming parliament election in Bangladesh will prominently come up for discussion.

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Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, while speaking to newspersons at the Foreign Service Academy on Tuesday, said, "We've a longstanding relation with Russia. We shall discuss the complex global situations including the Ukraine crisis. We could request Russia to find out a peaceful solution soon."

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He informed media that many other issues including Rohingya repatriation, food, fertiliser and fuel will be discussed.

The foreign secretary said, "We will place our problems."

According to diplomatic sources, Sergey Lavrov will discuss various bilateral issues including political, economic, defence, trade and investment, and technological cooperation during his visit to Dhaka. Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the Russia-Ukraine war situation and its impact, as well as Rohingya issues will get importance during bilateral talks, especially, the issue related to the global supply chain crisis and exorbitant price hikes of fuel, food and other consumer products in the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war is on the agenda of the talks. In this perspective, Bangladesh may raise the issue of stopping the Russia-Ukraine war during bilateral talks.

On the Rohingya issue, a diplomat told this correspondent this time Bangladesh is interested in discussing details on this issue with Russia because safe and voluntary repatriation is the lone solution to the Rohingya crisis, which is why it is necessary to undertake a coordinated and meaningful initiative by the international communities, including Russia, to create a congenial atmosphere in Rakhaine to facilitate the repatriation.

It has been learned that, during the bilateral talks, Bangladesh will seek Russia’s support at various forums of the United Nations in future.

According to foreign policy experts, Russia has been emphasising involvement in the international community after the West had cornered the country following its war with Ukraine that broke out in February 2022. So, Russia will usually want its historically tested friend, Bangladesh by its side.

Usually, Russia remains silent on the internal affairs of any country. Yet, the country has been vocal on the internal issues of Bangladesh on social media in Dhaka and at press conferences in Moscow at various times over the past year.

Several diplomats hinted at Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity that Sergey Lavrov may raise the issue of why the Russian vessel under US sanction was barred from Bangladesh territory during his two meetings in Dhaka.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Moscow told Prothom Alo that Sergey Lavrov will arrive in Dhaka from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, at 4:00 pm today, Thursday. His Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen will receive him at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Two foreign ministers will first hold a bilateral meeting at a hotel in the evening, followed by joining a dinner where they will discuss several issues including various international forums like the UN.

The Russian foreign minister will call on prime minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban in the morning of 8 September. Later, he will pay tributes to the Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in the capital’s Dhanmondi 32. After that, he will exchange views with the Bangladeshis, who studied in Russia during the Soviet era, at a hotel in the capital.