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As Bangladesh is a part of the Bay of Bengal, there is no scope to avoid the discussion on IPS. Ours interest are involved if anything happens in this region. Our strategy will be determined prioritising our economic interests through IPS. However, Bangladesh will say clearly that there should be no provision to block any country through IPS.

The issue of IPS was reflected in the joint declaration circulated following a formal meeting of Hasina and Macron in Paris on Tuesday last.

Both the countries emphasised a participatory, free, peaceful and safe Indo Pacific region for the sake of progress of all in compliance with international laws.

Taking IPS of France and EU into consideration, two countries have agreed to increase cooperation on maritime security and blue economy alongside peace and stability of the region.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Bangladesh diplomats said the issue of IPS came to light for the first time in the joint declaration after discussions with a top level of any country with Bangladesh. So it is clear that Bangladesh has support to the policy on IPS by France as well as EU.

Foreign ministry officials said as a country of the region of Bay of Bengal, the government is going to finalise a strategic paper as the western countries have special attention regading IPS. Protection of economic interests will be emphasised in the strategic paper on IPS.

In the last two months, Bangladesh held discussions at a foreign secretary-level with Germany, UK and European Union. Germany, UK and EU have shared with Bangladesh their positions over IPS in the meetings of Berlin, London and Brussels. Similarly, they wanted to know what Dhaka is thinking about this.

Foreign ministry officials said it is clear that different countries and alliances will share their positions in future as the way France, Germany, UK and the EU placed IPS for discussions. They will want to know the position of Bangladesh.

When asked about the government's position over IPS ahead of prime minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Paris, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said, "As Bangladesh is a part of the Bay of Bengal, there is no scope to avoid the discussion on IPS. Ours interest are involved if anything happens in this region. Our strategy will be determined prioritising our economic interests through IPS. However, Bangladesh will say clearly that there should be no provision to block any country through IPS."

Speaking to officials working at home and abroad, it is learnt that there is no scope to think that everything has been finalised over IPS following strategies finalised by Germany, France and EU after the USA.

The officials said Bangladesh should take this issue into its consideration while advancing over IPS. Strategies of Germany, France and EU seem to be more pragmatic to Bangladesh as EU laid emphasis on the economic interest.

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) ANM Muniruzzaman said there are various changes in geo-politics due to geo-strategy in the global world. Bangladesh has no scope to keep aloof from this.

He also said there must be checks and balance in the strategy Bangladesh will formulate in the interest of the nation.

"It is expected the strategic neutrality of Bangladesh is strongly upheld. It has to be clearly stated that in the strategy Bangladesh will determine, it will not participate in any military process."

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.

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