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Bangladesh-France relations to be elevated to strategic engagements: PM

Bangladesh-France relations to be elevated to strategic engagements: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday (Sep 10) said bilateral relations between Bangladesh and France will reach a strategic partnership for shared prosperity of all. "I am confident that our bilateral relations can move to strategic engagements for the shared prosperity for all in the Indo-Pacific and beyond," she told a banquet hosted in honour of French President Emmanuel Macron at the Hotel InterContinental in Dhaka. On his arrival at banquet venue, Macron was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with a bouquet of flower. The younger daughter of the Father of the Nation and sister of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Rehana, was present at the banquet, local media reported.

The PM said they are opening up new areas of cooperation in strategic assets and advanced technologies. "Our partnership can be a meaningful force to address the multiple crises of wars, climate change and cost-of-living that our world is facing," she said.

The premier said France has been trusted development partner of Bangladesh since its independence. "We have developed a robust trade partnership with focus on responsible business conduct," she continued.

Macron arrived in Dhaka on Sunday (Sep 10) night at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on a bilateral tour to Bangladesh after attending the G-20 Summit in New Delhi, India.

Sheikh Hasina said it is her great pleasure and honour to host the French President at this banquet. "I recall your warm hospitality at the Elysee Palace in November 2021. I am delighted that you have accepted my invitation to visit Dhaka," she said.

The people of Bangladesh join in the banquet with her in welcoming "you (French President) and your delegation here." She reminded: "France holds a special place in our hearts and imagination".

On a lighter note, the Premier said they have arranged for the French President to have a taste of Bangladesh's unique Kacchi Biriyani.

"Both our nations are extremely proud of our cuisine, culture and linguistic heritage. It is time to promote further interface and fusion between our two cultures to bring our two peoples closer to each other," she said.

She continued: "May I propose a toast to your health with another delicacy of ours – juice made of Amra – a popular local fruit." She said her father, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was greatly inspired by the spirit of the French Revolution.

The premier said Bangabandhu dedicated his life to promote the values of liberty, equality and fraternity in his fight for self-determination.

This was also reflected in his (Bangabandhu's Historic Speech of 7th March 1971, she said and quoted Bangabandhu as saying, "Our struggle this time is for our liberation. Our struggle this time is for independence."

"Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib's call for freedom echoed with global intellectuals like Andre Marlaux who mobilized a number of young people to fight for our cause," she opined.

"It often strikes me that President Macron with his Forward March movement carries the proud legacy of Marlaux and his followers," she said.

She continued: "We admire you, Mr. President, for the many bold reforms you have undertaken in France. We find you to be a breath of fresh air in international politics".

"Your (French President) push for strategic autonomy largely aligns with our own foreign policy dictum 'Friendship to all, malice towards none'- given to us by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," she added.

Smoked Hilsha with piazo and somosa and mulligatawny soup with artisanal and bread and butter have been served in the dinner. The main items served to Macron were mutton kacchi biryani, beef seekh kebab, chicken korma, sour aubergine, traditional luchi bread and roasted lobster. The deserted items were Pathishapta Pitha, sweet yoghurt, Rosogolla and fresh fruit cuts; and the beverage were Arma juice, selection of fresh juices, selection of water and soft drinks, selection of tea and coffee.