France agreed to provide Bangladesh with €330 million – €200 million pandemic-time budget support and the rest for a sustainable water supply project – on the second day of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's five-day state visit to the European country.
During her talks with top French leaders, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also requested France to take the Rohingya issue to the UN Security Council as the country is a permanent member of the council, reports the BSS.
The Agence Française de Développement's (AFD) €130 million is an additional loan for the ongoing Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project with a repayment period of 20 years and a grace period of seven years, said Fatima Yasmin, secretary to the Economic Relations Division (ERD), on Wednesday.
With this €330 million, the AFD's total support to Bangladesh exceeded €1 billion as earlier it provided €800 million, she said.
The Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project was launched in 2013 and is co-financed by the Asian Development Bank ($250 million), the European Investment Bank ($100 million) and the AFD.
The objective of the project at Gandharbpur is to contribute to improving living conditions for people in Dhaka, especially women and the most vulnerable populations, by increasing and ensuring the sustainability of drinking water production using surface water.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh has requested France to take the Rohingya issue to the UN Security Council as the country is a permanent member of the council, reports the BSS.
France has assured that they would remain beside Bangladesh until the permanent solution of the Rohingya crisis.
"We will seriously remain beside you until the [Rohingya] crisis reaches a permanent solution," Momen quoted the French side as telling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her talks with high-profile leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and French Prime Minister Jean Castex.
Momen said the Rohingya issue became prominent during the prime minister's meetings with all French leaders, especially the president.
The foreign minister said the French leaders were informed that Bangladesh was trying through various angles to solve the matter.
"We have been trying bilaterally, tri-laterally and multilaterally…We even went to the International Criminal Court," he said.
He stated that the problem was created by Myanmar and the solution also lies with them.
Regarding the issue of the recent military coup in Myanmar, he said, Bangladesh did not have any direct discussion with the military rulers of Myanmar after the recent military coup.
"We told them [French leaders] that Western world is continuing their business with Myanmar, but they have to stop it to create pressure on them," Momen said.
France questioned the possibility to advance the dialogue for the repatriation process during the military government, he said.
"We told them that there were military governments in Myanmar in the 70s and 90s. But during that time they repatriated the Rohingyas," he added.
In this connection, the foreign minister said in 1992 some 2,53,000 Rohingyas came to Bangladesh and of them 2,36,000 went back through dialogues and discussions, and the same thing happened in the 1970s.
"We told France that in the last four years there were no conflicts in Rakhine state. There is no violence in there. So, it is the right time," he added.
He said Bangladesh informed the French top level leaders that Bangladesh has good relations with its neighbours.
Momen also said Myanmar had agreed to take the Rohingyas back.
"They said they will provide guaranteed safety and security. They also agreed to create a conducive environment for their dignified return. But they are not implementing anything…We told our tales of sorrows," he said.
The foreign minister said the French leaders asked Bangladesh whether it had told the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) about the matter.
"We replied, 'Of course, we have told Asean. They said they have talked with Asean. They asked Asean to take strong steps," he said.
The Bangladesh side said Asean is slow and it cannot say anything on internal issues of any member country, Momen said.
"It was a long discussion [with the French leaders on the Rohingya issue]," he added.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Md Mokammel Hossain said the Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority signed an agreement with the France Civil Aviation Authority to strengthen the cooperation in knowledge sharing and training of employees.
It would also help organise different events including aviation safety, he said.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, among others, were present during the meetings.