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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Dhaka

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit following his trip to Jakarta.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen received him at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at around 6:00pm on Thursday (September 7).

This is the first visit of any Russian foreign minister to Bangladesh in the 52 years’ history of bilateral relations that began in 1971 during the War of Independence.

The two foreign ministers will sit in a bilateral meeting at the Hotel InterContinental. A joint briefing after the meeting is also planned. Dr Momen is also set to host a dinner in his honour.

Lavrov will make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday morning. After that, he will pay respect to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Dhanmondhi 32.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Tuesday said Dhaka would request Russia during Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming Bangladesh visit to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis.

He emphasized Dhaka’s “long-standing relationship” with Moscow, adding: “We will discuss the complex situations that have arisen across the world in recent times, especially since the Ukraine crisis. We can request Russia to find a peaceful solution as soon as possible.”

Issues like food, fertilizers and fuel would come up in the talk with Russia’s top diplomat. “We will highlight the problems that we have,” the foreign secretary had said.

The Russian minister was scheduled to visit Bangladesh on November 23 to attend the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting held on November 24. Russia is a dialogue partner of the IORA, and Bangladesh is the current chair of the group.

After that bilateral relations gained momentum; both sides now have agreements for cooperation in defence, trade and energy.

The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is the “signature” initiative between the two countries.

Russia’s state-owned atomic company Rosatom is helping in the construction. This is a $12.65 billion project — 90% of which is financed through a Russian loan repayable within 28 years, with a 10-year grace period.

Lavrov is representing President Vladimir Putin at different summits, including G20, due to an arrest warrant out for the latter, issued by the International Criminal Court, for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Nineteen countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the US – and the European Union are members of the G20, founded in 1999.

India is the current president. Bangladesh is also joining the meetings as an invited guest, with Prime Minister Hasina set to attend the summit.