DHAKA: Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh on Wednesday held their first ever political consultation talks during Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s visit to Dhaka.
The prince flew into the Bangladeshi capital on Tuesday afternoon and was received by his counterpart A.K. Abdul Momen.
On Wednesday, he met the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and led the Saudi delegation in talks with Bangladeshi officials at Dhaka’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel.
“This is a very historic event because this is the first time Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have had a high-level political consultation,” Momen said in a joint press conference with Prince Faisal after the meeting.
“We discussed solid cooperation,” he added. “In different international forums we will support each other.”
Prince Faisal said they had an “excellent round of political consultation.”
He added: “We discussed many areas, and I think the most important thing to say is that we are fully aligned in our vision for the future. We believe very much in working together to contribute to the security and stability of our respective regions.”
The prince pointed out that with 2.5 million Bangladeshi expats living and working in the Kingdom, and contributing to its development, the two countries had already been working closely together.
“There are Saudi companies already present here in Bangladesh with several billion dollars’ worth of direct investment. And we are committed to building on this strong foundation to a much, much broader partnership and much broader relationship,” he said.
Momen pledged Dhaka’s support for Saudi entities interested in investing in the country, which was preparing more than 100 special economic zones for potential investors.
“We will provide all support to the Saudi investors if they want to invest in our economic zones. Already 20 Saudi companies have shown interest in this regard,” he said.
According to the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, most of the planned Saudi investment projects were in the public sector and related to oil refineries, gas transmission, fertilizer production, aviation, port management, construction, and hospitality.
Bangladesh has also requested to join Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives announced last year to reduce carbon emissions and combat pollution and land degradation by planting billions of trees.
“Saudi Arabia has taken a great initiative for making green the whole of the Middle East,” Momen added. “We requested for partnership.”
Under the green initiative, Saudi Arabia aims to plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom and 40 billion in neighboring countries, in what would be the largest reforestation program in the world.