Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam and other officials of the ministry address a press conference in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo

The leaders of five out of the eight South Asian countries would visit Bangladesh over the next 10 days, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said on Monday.

Several memorandums of understanding would be signed during these visits, he said at a press conference in Dhaka without elaborating.

Bangladesh is still working with the relevant countries on signing the MoUs, he said.

According to foreign ministry secretary Mashfee Binte Shams, three MoUs are likely to be signed with India on disaster management issues and cooperation between various institutions.

‘We are still working on the MOUs,’ she said. 

 The South Asian dignitaries will be in Dhaka at the invitation of the Bangladesh government as a part of the yearlong celebrations of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence and the birth centenary of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said foreign minister AK Abdul Momen.

Maldives president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will be in Dhaka on March 17–18, Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 19–20, Nepal president Bidya Devi Bhandari on March 22–23, Bhutanese prime minister Lotay Tshering on March 23-25 and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on March 26-27.

They will deliver speeches as guests of honour on the celebrations at the national parade ground — the Maldives president on March 17, the Sri Lankan prime minister on March 19, the Nepal president on March 22, the Bhutanese prime minister on March 24 and the Indian prime minister on March 26.

The five dignitaries will have official talks with their Bangladesh counterparts. 

Cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, agriculture, coastal shipping, education, ICT and tourism is likely to get priority in the talks with the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, said foreign ministry officials.

Water sharing would be a common item in agendas of bilateral meetings with India, foreign minister Momen said, adding that the water secretaries of the two countries would hold talks in New Delhi today. 

Asked whether the leaders of the other South Asian nations were invited to join the celebrations, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said that the Afghanistan leader was invited and dignitaries from that country might attend later phases of the celebrations.

State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam and chief of protocol Amanul Haq also addressed the press conference.

Pakistan was not invited to represent in the celebrations for avoiding any untoward statement from the dignitaries of that country in the celebrations, foreign ministry officials said.

Myanmar, one of the two next door neighbours of Bangladesh, was also not invited, they said.

The ambassadors of Myanmar and Pakistan might get invitations to join the opening programme on March 17, they added.  

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