Bangladesh, China to discuss defence cooperation

DHAKA: Increased defence cooperation would be among the topics
discussed 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 talks
on enhancement of the defence cooperation will be in the agenda,” Moni
told a news conference, without giving details.

Bangladesh will soon add two new Chinese frigates to boost its naval
fleet and increase its number of frigates to seven, a defence official
told Reuters.

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

Bangladesh briefly deployed naval ships in a disputed part of the bay
after 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 deep
concern. China agreed to provide the frigates during Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Beijing in March, the official said asking not
to 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-leg
of a four-nation tour. He will also visit Laos, New Zealand and
Australia until June 24, Chinese embassy officials said.

The vice president will also discuss regional, international and
bilateral issues including economic and technical cooperation, Moni
said. reuters