Terming Bangladesh a geographically contiguous neighbour of the ASEAN, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her country's keen interest to further strengthen institutional engagements with the important regional organisation.
She sought a more pro-active support from the ASEAN to ensure an "early, safe and dignified" repatriation of the displaced Rohingya people whom Bangladesh temporarily sheltered purely on humanitarian grounds.
The PM said this in her message to President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the occasion of the 50 years of diplomatic ties between Bangladesh and the Philippines, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mentioning the phenomenal socio-economic achievements of Bangladesh over the last 50 years, Sheikh Hasina reiterated her commitment to working with the international community to ensure a safe, equitable and sustainable world for the posterity.
President Duterte said, "Bangladesh, having transitioned to one of the most successful economies in the world, will play a greater role in the South Asian region and beyond".
The two leaders vowed to further strengthen the shared journey of the two friendly countries in the next 50 years and beyond.
Sheikh Hasina recalled with gratitude the early recognition the Government of the Philippines accorded on 24 February 1972 to an independent Bangladesh.
She also fondly recalled the stop-over in Manila by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his return journey from Tokyo in 1973 to express his gratitude to the friendly Government and people of the Philippines for their magnanimous gesture.
Both the leaders praised the strong, cooperative and friendly relations that have been nurtured between the two friendly countries in the last five decades, including trade, investment, education, tourism, cultural exchange, people-to-people contacts, etc.
The two leaders expressed optimism that the two countries would explore newer areas of cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two friendly peoples.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and his Philippines counterpart Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. locsin, Jr. also exchanged messages on the occasion of the fifty years of bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and the Philippines.