Bangladesh and Italy on Wednesday agreed to take the bilateral relations between the two countries to a new height, saying the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened a new chapter of cooperation.
The agreement came when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sat in a bilateral meeting with her Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte at Palazzo Chigi.
Both the prime ministers discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction at the present state of economic cooperations between the two countries.
PM's press secretary Ihsanul Karim, who was present at the meeting, briefed reporters after the meeting.
The Italian prime minister described the meeting as a fruitful one and said it is the beginning of another new chapter in its relation with Bangladesh.
He highly appreciated 'super humanitarian' effort of the Bangladesh Prime Minister by hosting the Rohingya refugees.
In additional to their prior financial assistance, Italy will give 1 million euro to the UNHCR for the Rohingya refugees, he said.
Both the prime ministers stressed the need for further enhancing the cooperation.
The Italian prime minister emphasised on expanding the areas of cooperation. He showed interest in the cooperation of energy and defence sectors. "Italy can offer many products," he said.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister made some suggestions for enhancing the cooperations and in reply, the Italian Prime Minister said they will consider these with great attention.
He termed the GDP growth of Bangladesh a remarkable achievement.
He praised the Bangladeshi workers in Italy.
Giuseppe Conte thanked the Prime Minister for taking prompt actions the Holey Artisan incident and extending cooperation to the victims' families.
He said they will celebrate the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Italy in 2022.
Sheikh Hasina described Italy as the great friend of Bangladesh and said just after the Liberation of the country they recognised Bangladesh on February 12, 1972.
"Italy is one of the first European countries which recognised Bangladesh after the Liberation War," she said.
She invited the Italian Prime Minister to visit Bangladesh during the Mujib Borsho (March 17, 2020- March 26, 2021) when Bangladesh will celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Golden Jubilee of the Independence.
She briefed the italian countrpart about the economic development of Bangladesh achieved through hard work.
She mentioned that in 2006 the poverty level was 41.6 percent but the government brought down that at 20.5 percent.
"I believe that the today's bilateral talks would take the existing relations to a even greater height," she said.
Prime Minister requested the Italian government to facilitate business visas for Bangladesh businesspeople to help increase the business and trade between the two countries.
She invited italy to invest in Bangladesh saying Bangladesh has one of the best investment policies in South Asia. In this connection she said Bangladesh is establishing 100 economic zones across the country.
She also said the foreign investment policy of Bangladesh is the best one in South Asia. She briefly described various salient features of the policy.
"Italian companies are welcomed to invest in Bangladesh taking advantages of those facilities. Bangladesh offers a large market in its neighbourhood including a huge domestic market with a growing middle class population," she said.
She also said Italy could import more leather and leather goods from Bangladesh as these items as world-class ones.
The Prime Minister said Italy hosts the second largest Bangladeshi expatriates after the UK. "They are contributing to the economies of both the countries," she said.
She said Bangladesh is committed to preventing irregular migration.
Regarding the Rohingya refugees, the Prime Minister requested her Italian counterpart to mount international pressure on Myanmar for obeying the instructions of the ICJ.
Talking about the Holey Artisan incident she said the Bangladesh government took very quick measurers over the incident and since then terror activities in Bangladesh are totally under control.
But she said terrorism is a global problem.
Earlier on arrival at the Plazzo Chigi, Sheikh Hasina was given smartly-turned out palace guard of homour and the national anthems of both the countries were played.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Ambassador Abdus Sobhan Sikder and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen were present from Bangladesh side.