POST TIME: 14 February, 2020 12:30:16 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 February, 2020 06:14:33 PM
Focus on Rohingya issue as Dhaka-Riyadh talks end

Focus on Rohingya issue as Dhaka-Riyadh talks end

The sending back of some 42,000 Rohingyas with Bangladeshi passports from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to Bangladesh has been discussed between the two friendly countries at their joint commission meeting, during which the Saudi side termed the matter ‘sensitive’. On their part, the Bangladesh side said, “It needs more discussion as different ministries are involved.” Amid talks on various issues yesterday, both sides also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) and ACWA Power on generating 189 MW of solar power. In addition, both countries agreed to work on a number of areas, including the issuance of passports, working visas, judicial affairs, telecommunications, and power. The two-day 13th session of the joint commission of Bangladesh and KSA ended in the capital. Monowar Ahmed, secretary of the Economic Relations Division of the finance ministry, led the Bangladesh delegation, while Mahir Abdul Rahman Gassim, deputy minister for the international affairs of the labour and social development ministry, headed the KSA delegation.

In reply to a query on the sending back of Rohingyas from KSA, Gassim said: “The matter is sensitive. We have discussed the issue. Some Rohingyas have already been detained and many of them have been sentenced to jail. They will be sent back after their jail term.”

On the other hand, Monowar said, “The Rohingya issue came up for discussion. The matter will be discussed further, as various ministries are

involved here.”

Over several years, the KSA has been putting pressure to send back the Rohingyas. The matter had also been discussed at a meeting in Abu Dhabi recently.

Joint commission meeting sources said the KSA had a committee to settle the issues concerning the Rohingyas who had gone there by illegal means. The KSA said they had requested Bangladesh to assist the committee.

Meanwhile, on the concluding day, both sides signed a Joined Commission Agreed Minutes at the NEC Conference Hall in the capital. Regarding cooperation on foreign, interior, and judicial affairs, both sides agreed to work further on expediting the issuance of passports, working visas, and other relevant travel documents. Both sides agreed to cooperate further in the judicial field and in the fields of drug control, fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting crimes, and to update new information to maintain peace and harmony in both countries.

The Bangladesh side handed over to the Saudi side proposals related to three issues—problems regarding the online submission of death compensation cases of traffic accidents on the website of the justice ministry of KSA; the problem regarding the issuing of cheques for death compensation in the names of the heirs of the deceased from the execution court; and problems regarding the submission of cases in the execution court. The Saudi side promised to address the issues soon.

The two sides agreed to work together to abide by the rules and regulations of the customs authorities of both countries regarding consignments, including the country of origin and packaging of products. They agreed to continue cooperation in the power sector. They also agreed on technical cooperation between the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and the Saudi Standards and Metrology and Quality Organisation.

Bangladesh and the KSA agreed to work in the field of Islamic affairs and to continue cooperation on labour issues.

Both sides discussed the importance of diversification of mutual products. The Saudi side proposed the strengthening of the cooperation between the Saudi Fund of Development and the central bank of Bangladesh. The sides discussed the allotment of 1,000 acres of land by Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) on lease for Al-Bawani. The Al-Bawani group agreed to conduct a feasibility study to assess the suitability of the potential site.

The Bangladesh government assured all support to the Saudi investor, including extension of the maximum facilities available to a foreign investor. A proposal of USD 1 billion for telecommunication infrastructure development (4G and 5G) by Teletalk Bangladesh Limited was discussed with the Al-Jomiah Group and both sides agreed to work further on a priority basis. The Engineering Dimension of the KSA and the Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation (BFIDC) of Bangladesh agreed to a strategic partnership to manufacture and market 100 per cent export-oriented furniture plants and wood-processing plants in Bangladesh.

The delegations of both countries discussed various issues covering the socio-economic development of both the countries and agreed to further strengthen mutual cooperation.  The 14th Joint Commission meeting is expected to be held in Riyadh in 2022.