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Chinese premier to pay state visit to Bangladesh Thurs.

DHAKA, April 6 Kyodo

Bangladesh and China are prepared to sign a number of cooperation deals during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's ''politically and economically significant'' state visit to Bangladesh beginning Thursday.

Wen arrives in Dhaka on the second leg of his four-nation tour, leading a 102-member entourage comprising four Cabinet ministers, four vice ministers, senior officials and a large number of businesspeople.

''It's a very significant and milestone visit on many counts... And we feel confident that the Chinese premier's visit will be a great success and turn a new leaf in our bilateral relations,'' Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin told reporters on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Wen will have in-depth discussion about bilateral cooperation covering economy, trade, investment, agriculture, education, cultural affairs and defense.

Hemayet said Bangladesh and China will reach accords on a Kunming-Dhaka-Beijing air route and road communications on the Kunming-Myanmar-Cox's Bazar roadway.

The foreign secretary also said Dhaka would seek soft-term loans from Beijing instead of suppliers' credits to help finance some new national projects in Bangladesh.

''We're negotiating loans for various projects and both sides hopefully will come to an agreement,'' he said. He did not elaborate.

A number of agreements and memorandums of understanding about socioeconomic development are also expected during Wen's two-day visit, Hemayetuddin said, adding, ''We will seek increased cooperation in education, culture, food, floods, telecommunications and crime control.''

According to official sources, two-way trade came to $1.14 billion in 2003-04. Bangladesh's imports from China totaled $1.08 billion while its exports totaled only $46 million.

As for Bangladeshi products' duty-free access to the Chinese market, the foreign secretary said 84 items will enter the Chinese market from January 2006 under the Hong Kong agreement to narrow the trade gap.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Apr 11, 2005
Words:290
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