By SM Najmus Sakib, Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Bangladesh and South Korea signed three instruments in Dhaka on Sunday aiming to accelerate bilateral relations and cooperation.
The instruments were signed in the presence of Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina and her South Korean counterpart Lee Nak-yon following official talks between the two leaders, reported state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
With the agreements, Dhaka and Seoul are seeking to increase cooperation on diplomat training, bilateral investment and cultural exchange.
According to the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and South Korea stood at about $1.5 billion in the last fiscal year.
After the meeting, Hasina urged Lee to facilitate Korean investment in soft loans in Bangladesh’s development projects.
"We appreciate soft loans for implementing development projects under Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF)," said in a written statement.
Citing Korean contributions to Bangladesh’s health, education and social welfare sectors, Hasina said she sought further cooperation in setting up an e-waste recycling plant and establishing a digital security agency in Bangladesh.
"We propose for implementing an integrated Maritime Navigation System in Bangladesh with Korean Exim Bank Fund under EDCF," her statement added.
Referring to 20,000 Bangladeshis now working in different sectors in South Korea, Hasina underlined that the trade imbalance between the two countries should be minimized.
"To narrow down the trade imbalance, we request you to consider allowing duty free market access for all of our exports without any exception," she said.
Hasina suggested Korea import woven garments, pharmaceuticals, knitwear, jute and jute products, leather and leather goods and frozen food from Bangladesh, she added
She added: "Bangladesh, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), strongly supports all international measures for nuclear free zone in the Korean Peninsula."
For his part, Lee had earlier told the Korea-Bangladesh Business Forum that his country was keen on cooperating with Bangladesh in energy, infrastructure, information and communications technology and other hi-tech sectors.
He arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday afternoon for a three-day official visit.