Bangladesh, China to discuss defence cooperation

DHAKA: Increased defence cooperation would be among the topicsdiscussed when Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Bangladesh,Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said on Sunday.

“China is the largest defence hardware supplier to Bangladesh. So talkson enhancement of the defence cooperation will be in the agenda,” Monitold a news conference, without giving details.

Bangladesh will soon add two new Chinese frigates to boost its navalfleet and increase its number of frigates to seven, a defence officialtold Reuters.

Officials say boosting naval capabilities is important for Bangladeshto maintain surveillance in its territory in the Bay Bengal, rich innatural resources and hydrocarbons.

Bangladesh briefly deployed naval ships in a disputed part of the bayafter Myanmar began exploring for oil and gas there in October 2008.

Bangladesh withdrew the ships after Myanmar stopped the exploration,when China, a friend to both the neighbouring countries, expressed deepconcern. China agreed to provide the frigates during Prime MinisterSheikh Hasina’s visit to Beijing in March, the official said asking notto identify him.

Bangladesh last added a frigate, built by South Korea, in 2001, when Hasina was also prime minister.

Xi will arrive in Dhaka on Monday on a two-day visit, on the first-legof a four-nation tour. He will also visit Laos, New Zealand andAustralia until June 24, Chinese embassy officials said.

The vice president will also discuss regional, international andbilateral issues including economic and technical cooperation, Monisaid. reuters

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