Bangladesh PM on first official visit to Singapore

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, on Sept 21, 2017.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, on Sept 21, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina began her first official visit to Singapore yesterday - the first such visit here by the country's head of government in over a decade.

The four-day visit, at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will see Madam Hasina receive a ceremonial welcome at the Istana today.

She will then call on President Halimah Yacob, before meeting PM Lee, who will also host an official lunch in Madam Hasina's honour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Tomorrow, she will visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid will be named in her honour, as is custom for visiting dignitaries. She will then attend the Bangladesh-Singapore Business Forum organised by the Singapore Business Federation.

Economic relations between Singapore and Bangladesh are on an upswing, with total trade rising from $3.4 billion in 2013 to $4.3 billion last year.

Singapore is Bangladesh's top source of foreign direct investment, with the Republic investing US$933.14 million (S$1.23 billion) there last year.

The visit will reaffirm strong ties between the two countries and build on their current partnership, with the inking of several agreements in fields such as business and air services expected.

Madam Hasina will be accompanied on her visit by Bangladesh's Minister for Foreign Affairs Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, senior government officials and a business delegation. Mr Ali told local reporters the visit is "politically important" as Singapore is Asean chairman this year.

Madam Hasina will seek Singapore's cooperation to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis, he added.

Some 700,000 people from Myanmar's Rohingya community have fled over the border to Bangladesh since last August, following an army crackdown that the United Nations has said amounts to "ethnic cleansing".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2018, with the headline 'Bangladesh PM on first official visit to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe