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Posted: 2019-02-04 18:00:00

Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are set to sign a defence pact on February 14 to further bolster military cooperation.

Under the proposed deal, Bangladesh will deploy two battalions of troops numbering some 1,800 for defusing/removing mines along the border of war-torn Yemen.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed, who is now visiting Saudi Arabia, disclosed this while visiting the newly constructed chancery of the Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh on Sunday.

He also gave a brief outline of the deal to the media, according to a press release from the embassy.

The principal staff officer of the Armed Forces Division would sign the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation between Bangladesh and KSA on behalf of Bangladesh, diplomatic sources in Riyadh told The Daily Star yesterday. 

The two countries agreed to ink the agreement to give the current bilateral military relations a “permanent basis”.

The sources said the defence deal, which is now ready for signing, was scheduled to be inked during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to the Kingdom on October 17 last year, but it was deferred as both sides agreed to discuss some adjustments.

Gen Aziz on Sunday held separate meetings with Saudi Assistant Minister for Defence Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Ayash and Saudi Chief of Joint Forces Gen Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili and discussed various issues of mutual interest, said the press release.

The army chief said Bangladesh named four military officials, including a brigadier general, for joining the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC). The Bangladesh Army would continue its cooperation with the coalition, he added.

Aziz said signing of the defence deal would take the Bangladesh-KSA military cooperation to a new height.

He said he discussed with Saudi officials engaging members of the Bangladesh Army engineering corps in building various civil and military infrastructures and development works in the KSA. He also proposed engaging experienced doctors of Bangladesh Army in different areas of Saudi defence forces.

The army chief hoped the doctors would be able to avail of higher training at various Saudi hospitals alongside carrying out their routine works.

He said Saudi Army, Navy and Air Force officials were receiving training at Bangladesh Military Academy, National Defence College and Defence Services Command and Staff College.

Earlier, Bangladesh Ambassador Golam Moshi welcomed the army chief and his delegation members to the embassy. Deputy Chief of Mission Nazrul Islam, Defence Attache Brig Gen Mohammad Shah Alam Chowdhury and other senior officials were present.

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