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Mega projects on agenda of PM's Japan visit

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Bangladesh will have discussions with Japan on half a dozen mega projects during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to find ways how the East Asian nation can assist Bangladesh in implementing those projects.Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said this at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry on Saturday.The projects, which will come up for discussions, include the Ganges Barrage project, a multi-modal and multi-lane tunnel beneath the river Jamuna, a second nuclear power plant (NPP), a rail bridge parallel to Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna, Eastern Bypass road and restoration of water bodies surrounding Dhaka and improvement of Mawa-Kalna-Narail-Jessore road with construction of a bridge at Kalna."These will be discussed. These are all very big projects," said the Foreign Minister without elaborating further on whether any specific deal will be signed or not.Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh expects a formal announcement over the Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the Japan government during the visit.During Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's Dhaka visit on March 22, Japan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Koichi Mizushima said Japan will provide 120 billion Yen, equivalent to US$1.18 billion, to Bangladesh under the ODA.Asked about the risk of having NPPs, he said any accident might occur but the operation of NPPs is not stopped in other countries. "We shouldn't sit idle fearing accident."Responding to a another question on 'Look East' request by Japanese envoy, the Foreign Minister said the government would like to give equal attention to each country and build stronger ties in line with its foreign policy.Earlier, in his opening remark, the Foreign Minister said the Prime Minister's visit is a timely tour as Bangladesh and Japan both are looking for building a comprehensive partnership to reach a new height in terms of bilateral relations.He said there would be 109 members in Bangladesh delegation with 45 business representatives during the visit.Mahmood Ali said the visit would usher in a new horizon in the Bangladesh-Japan relationship.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leaves here for Japan on Saturday midnight on a four-day official tour.This will be also Hasina's first bilateral visit to the country after assuming office for the second successive term through the January 5 election. This is, however, Hasina's third visit to Japan as Prime Minister, as she visited the East Asian island nation in 1997 and 2010.Japan, the largest bilateral development partner of Bangladesh, has been significantly contributing to the socioeconomic development of the country through financial assistance in sectors like poverty alleviation, physical infrastructure, power generation, human resources development.

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