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G20 Summit in Delhi momentous for Dhaka

Published : 04 Sep 2023 10:43 PM | Updated : 05 Sep 2023 05:13 PM

Centring the upcoming G20 Summit scheduled to be held on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi, Bangladesh will have to deal with some crucial issues with different global leaders including US President Joe Biden as the US administration is engrossed with Dr Muhammad Yunus issue.

Several important agreements with Dhaka are likely to be signed during this period as some top leaders are coming for a visit to Dhaka.

The series of meetings are expected to start with the arrival of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Dhaka on September 7. This will be followed by the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron on September 11. 

Both the visits are considered to be unique as a French President is visiting Dhaka after nearly 33 years and Lavrov is the first Foreign Minister of Moscow to visit Bangladesh in its history. 

In between the times, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will go to New Delhi on September 8 afternoon to participate in the G-20 Summit, where Bangladesh is among the “guest countries”.

During the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to hold meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a trilateral meeting is likely to be held with Biden and Modi. 

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka days after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned from Johannesburg in South Africa, where Bangladesh participated in the discussion on the expansion of the BRICS (the grouping of world economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). 

According to sources, Russian state energy company ROSATOM is building Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant in Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) and the visit of Lavrov has raised expectations that the power plant is going to be completed soon. 

Earlier in October, 2022, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and ROSATOM Director General Alexey Likhachev launched the final stage of the installation of the reactor vessel at the construction site. 

The contract signed in 2015 with ROSATOM was Bangladesh’s biggest agreement worth about $12.65 billion. Out of the total amount, Russia is known to have funded nearly 90 percent. 

In Dhaka, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is expected to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and both sides may discuss the option of payment in a third currency. 

Sources said, paying Russia in U.S. dollars has become difficult for many partner countries because of the international sanctions. In recent months, a few payments to Moscow like the recent one by Indian oil majors, were made in Chinese Yuan. The discussion in Dhaka, therefore, is being keenly watched as it may reflect certain financial and geopolitical trends. 

According to the sources in Dhaka, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to reach Delhi on September 8 after concluding her discussion with Lavrov back home and subsequently participate in the G-20 engagements.

Sources said a bilateral meeting between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be held during the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

Sources said, concluding the New Delhi part, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would return to Dhaka to welcome French President Emmanuel Macron at Shah Jalal International Airport. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was hosted by French President Macron earlier in November, 2021 in Paris and, ever since, the two sides have been in talks over expanding defence ties. 

Paris has had historic ties with Dhaka where Paris maintained a trading mission even during the 17th century and France was also one of the first Western countries to recognise Bangladesh as an independent nation on February 14, 1972.

France has increasingly reoriented its strategic posture towards the Indo-Pacific region and an expanding military relation with Dhaka is now a possibility.

That apart, Macron’s visit will provide support to Bangladesh to deal with the pressure from the European Union and the U.S. The last French President to visit Dhaka was Francois Mitterrand in 1990.

Therefore, the visits by Russian Foreign Minister and French President and also the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Delhi during the G-20 are considered to be very important ahead of the upcoming 12th National Parliamentary Elections to be held in the first week of January, 2024.