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Brunei Sultan due Saturday; 3 cooperation deals likely to be signed

Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is scheduled to arrive here on his first state visit to Bangladesh on Saturday afternoon.

President Abdul Hamid will receive the Sultan at the VVIP terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport amid 21-gun salute and guard of honour upon his arrival by a special flight around 2:30pm, a senior official told UNB on Friday.

The visit was originally scheduled for October 14-16, but later it was rescheduled for October 15-17.

There is an indication that finally it will be a two-day visit.

From the airport, Brunei Sultan is scheduled to go straight to National Martyrs’ Memorial, Savar.

There, he will be received by Liberation War Affairs, Housing and Public Works Ministers and State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief.

The Sultan will place a wreath paying homage to Liberation War martyrs, sign visitors’ book and plant a sapling there.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah will also visit the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhaka’s Dhanmondi 32 to pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Sunday.

Family members of Bangabandhu will receive him there, according to a draft programme schedule.

Brunei Sultan will hold meetings with President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina apart from other engagements during the visit.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen will also meet him during his visit.

Bangladesh and Brunei are likely to sign three bilateral cooperation documents, including an agreement for introducing direct flights between the two countries, Momen told reporters.

Two other cooperation documents will be signed on recruitment of Bangladeshi workers and recognition of certificates for two countries’ seafarers.

“We believe that the visit will be a successful and productive one,” Momen said.

On energy cooperation with Brunei, Momen said Bangladesh is having discussion in this area and exploring all available options.

“This is going to be the first state visit by the Sultan of Brunei to Bangladesh,” Nahida Rahman Sumona, Bangladesh High Commissioner to Brunei, told UNB last week.

She said the visit carries special significance.

High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam Haji Haris Bin Othman has said he understands the importance of direct air connectivity between the two friendly Muslim countries to boost tourism and trade.

“Bangladesh tourists are most welcome to Brunei,” he said ahead of the visit.

The envoy said the state visit will be a new chapter in the history of both countries, further strengthening bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries.

In April 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a historic visit to Brunei Darussalam, which marked a new milestone as the countries signed several MoUs for various types of cooperation, including in sectors like gas supply, fisheries, agriculture, livestock, youth and sports, and art and culture, said Haris Bin Othman.

The high commissioner estimated that currently there may be around 15,000 Bangladeshi workers in Brunei.

He added that the country welcomes foreign workers to work in Brunei, including Bangladeshis, as long as the recruitment process is clean and all documents are in place.

The envoy noted that Bangladeshi tourists travel to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia – Brunei’s neighbours in the region -not only for leisure and adventure but also for medical treatment.

He would like to draw a portion of them to Brunei, which occupies a spot on the northern coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.

The remainder of the island is divided between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bangladesh and Brunei are stressing the importance of facilitating air and shipping connectivity for giving the bilateral trade, investment and people-to-people contact a boost.

Foreign Minister Momen is scheduled to see off Brunei Sultan at the airport after completion of the visit, likely on Sunday evening.