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Japan seeks sign defence deal to sell arms to Bangladesh​


Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen (L) and Japan assistant minister and ambassador for global issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ono Keiichi


Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen (L) and Japan assistant minister and ambassador for global issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ono Keiichi

Japan included Official Security Assistance (OSA) during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Tokyo last year to boost defence cooperation with Bangladesh. The country has also offered to sign a specialised defence agreement with Bangladesh on arms sales and technology transfer.

The matter is likely to be discussed at the fifth foreign secretary level meeting of the two countries to be held in Dhaka Tuesday.

Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen will lead the Bangladesh side while Ono Keiichi, assistant minister and ambassador for global issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will lead Japan in the talks.

Different bilateral issues will be discussed in the meeting while priorities will be on assessing the decisions made during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Tokyo, said the foreign ministry officials to Prothom Alo.

The ministry sources said trade and commerce, investment, infrastructural development, connectivity, agriculture, Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), defence and maritime security issues are also likely to get importance in the meeting.

Apart from this, Rohingya crisis and security issues will also be raised in the context of declining situation in Myanmar.

Japanese defence equipment manufacturers have been showing keen interest to sell arms for the last few years while delegates from several companies of the East Asian country already visited Bangladesh to this end, said diplomatic sources.

Speaking about this, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen told Prothom Alo Bangladesh and Japan have agreed to elevate the bilateral relations to strategic level. Bangladesh is one of the four countries that Japan included in the OSA project for the first time last year. The country has already shared a draft of the defence agreement with Bangladesh.

Wishing not to be named, a senior official told Prothom Alo that the two countries have been in discussion over the defence agreement but it would take time to finalise this.

The US has been in discussion with Bangladesh for the last few years to sign General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). Bangladesh has till now shown interest to sign GSOMIA.

Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen (L) and Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Riccardo Guariglia


Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen (L) and Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Riccardo Guariglia

Bangladesh may raise the issue of establishing a regional connectivity centre around the Matarbari deep sea port in the meeting of the foreign secretaries. If the modern seaport is built in full swing, there is a possibility of maximum utilisation by connecting India along with Bangladesh and Japan.

When attention was drawn to this issue, multiple former and serving diplomats said that Japan has already focused on increasing its presence in the northeastern region of India.

Japan has become involved in various projects in the region through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Overall, Japan wants to increase its economic influence in South Asian countries. The country is also interested in security due to investment.

Earlier Italy showed its interested in selling various types of weapons and military equipment including fighter jets, satellites, patrol ships to Bangladesh.

The European country wanted to sign a defence agreement with Bangladesh to facilitate the sale of arms. The matter was supposed to gain importance in the foreign secretary-level talks of the two countries be held in Dhaka Monday.

Masud Bin Momen led the Bangladesh side while Riccardo Guariglia, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General, led his country in the talks.
Last month, Italian Ambassador Antonio Alessandro paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban.

At that time, he told the prime minister that his country is interested in the transfer of technology including the sale of arms for the modernisation of the armed forces of Bangladesh. Italy is also ready to provide a second satellite to Bangladesh.

 
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