Xi sends congratulatory letter on 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Thursday sent a congratulatory letter to the China-Sri Lanka political parties conference commemorating the 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations and the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact.

Xi said that China and Sri Lanka overcame numerous obstacles and signed the historic Rubber-Rice Pact 70 years ago, opening the door to friendly exchanges between the two countries.

Xi said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations 65 years ago, the two countries have always maintained mutual respect and solidarity, and supported each other on issues concerning their respective core interests.

“China-Sri Lanka relations are a good example of friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries different in size,” Xi said, lauding the mutual support shown between the two countries since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

The CPC has maintained friendly exchanges and promoted practical cooperation with major political parties in Sri Lanka, playing an important role in the sound and stable development of bilateral relations and benefitting the two peoples, Xi stressed.

The CPC is willing to work with various political parties in Sri Lanka, taking the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties as a new starting point, to carry forward the traditional friendship between the two countries, strengthen political guidance for bilateral relations, and make greater contributions to the steady progress of bilateral relations and regional peace, stability, development and prosperity, Xi said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Indian Army adopts ‘deaf and mute’ village in J-K, plans welfare measures

A month after distributing hi-tech specialised hearing aids among the deaf and mute villagers of Dadhaki in Doda district, the Indian Army has gone a step ahead and adopted the village to address the concerns of its people, reports Rediff.com.

The hilltop tribal village, 105 km from Bhaderwah town, is home to 105 families.

Of these, 55 families mysteriously have at least one person who can neither speak nor listen.

There are 78 such people in the village, of which 41 are women and 30 children aged three to 15 years.

An Army spokesman said its Rashtriya Rifles has adopted the village in order to ensure the overall welfare of the population, with multiple social security programmes aimed at giving them the confidence to survive and make a living on their own.

In the first step, besides looking after their basic needs such as clothing, food and healthcare, the Army has begun door-to-door personalised teaching classes for the mute children by deploying sign language experts who have been specially trained in Telangana, the spokesman said.

In the next step of the ongoing scheme, a school with a hostel facility will be provided in Dadhkai panchayat, he said.

“We want to help them in a comprehensive and long-lasting manner. To teach them the best possible sign language, two teachers were sponsored by the Army to get specialised training at Hyderabad and Secunderabad (Telangana) and now, the deaf and mute population is being taught by them at their homes,” the spokesman said.

Bhalessa block development council chairman Mohammed Hanief, a resident of Dadhkai, expressed gratitude to the Army for its continuous welfare efforts.

“Whenever a woman conceives, not only the family but the entire village lives in constant fear of the offspring being deaf and mute. If it happens, it only increases miseries,” he told PTI.

He said a number of government officials and NGOs visited the village in the last couple of decades, but “nothing concrete was done”.

“The Army has initiated practical steps which will surely go a long way to minimise the miseries due to the disability, the root cause of which has not been identified yet,” Hanief said.

Some of the girls, who have learned the sign language, expressed their desire to start sewing centres. They sought sewing machines and a residential school.

“We have pinned our hopes on the Army as it is the only one looking after us for the last 10 years. My three daughters — Asran Bano (8), Reshma (12) and Asha Bano (23) are born with the disability and the Army has recently provided them with hearing aids,” a Hussan Bibi, a local woman, said.

She said her daughters are showing a keen interest in stitching and said she is hopeful that the Army will help them achieve their dream by providing sewing machines and setting up a tailoring centre.

In January, the Army gave hearing aids, costing Rs 17,000 each, to 10 children in the first phase, besides starting tutorials to teach them sign language.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

France and EU to withdraw troops from Mali, remain in region

President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that France will withdraw its troops from Mali nine years after it first intervened to drive Islamic extremists from power but intends to maintain a military presence in neighboring West African nations.

Announcing the move during a Thursday news conference in Paris, Macron accused Mali’s ruling military junta of neglecting the fight against Islamic extremists and said it was logical for France to withdraw since its role is not to replace a sovereign state on the battlefield.

“Victory against terror is not possible if it’s not supported by the state itself,” the French leader said.

France has about 4,300 troops in the Sahel region, including 2,400 in Mali. The so-called Barkhane force is also involved in Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Macron said the French pullout would be done “in an orderly manner” in coordination with the Malian military. France will start by closing military bases in the north of Mali, and the withdrawal will take between four or six months, he said.

“We cannot remain militarily involved” alongside Malian transitional authorities with whom “we don’t share the strategy and goals,” Macron said.

European leaders simultaneously announced Thursday that troops from the European-led military task force known as Takuba also would withdraw from Mali. The Takuba task force is composed of several hundred special forces troops from about a dozen European countries, including France.

Tensions have grown between Mali, its African neighbors and the European Union, especially after the West African country’s transitional government allowed Russian mercenaries to deploy in its territory.

Macron said a coalition of allies will remain present in the Sahel and the Guinea Gulf to counter actions from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Macron organized a summit in Paris on Wednesday evening to address the issue with regional and European leaders of countries involved in the Sahel.

Representatives from Mali and Burkina Faso coup leaders were not invited since both nations were suspended from the African Union following coups.

Senegalese President Macky Sall, who also chairs the African Union, said security and the fight against terror was “vital” for both Europe and Africa.

Speaking alongside Macron, Sall said he understood the decisions by France and the EU to end theirs operation in Mali but was pleased that an agreement on a new arrangement was reached to provide a continued presence in the Sahel.

Sall said there was a consensus during among EU and African leaders during their discussions that the fight against terror “should not be the sole business of African countries.”

Macron said the “heart” of the French operation “won’t be in Mali anymore” but in neighboring Niger, especially in the region bordering Burkina Faso, Macron detailed.

He did not give an estimate of how many forces would take part in the new operation.

French forces have been active since 2013 in Mali, where they intervened to drive Islamic extremists from power. But the insurgents regrouped in the desert and began attacking the Malian army and its allies.

Macron said support for civilians in Mali would continue, but he blamed the junta now ruling the country for its decision to hire a private Russian military contractor known as the Wagner Group, which the EU accuses of fomenting violence and committing human rights abuses in Africa.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Prepare universal pension scheme for all: Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to work out a universal pension scheme for the people aged above 60 and those who worked in the informal sector in line with the election manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League.

She made the directive while witnessing a presentation of “Introduction of Universal Pension System ” at her official residence Ganobhaban.

The Finance Division made the presentation in the morning, said PM’s assistant press secretary MM Emrul Kayas.

“The Prime Minister directed all concerned to design a universal pension scheme for all those aged above 60 and who worked in public and private sectors, and the informal sector,” he said.

She also issued a directive to set up an authority over the universal pension scheme, he added.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Planning Minister MA Mannan, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Senior Secretary of Finance Division Abdur Rouf Talukder, PMO Senior Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD) Fatima Yasmin, Secretary of Planning Division Pradip Ranjan Chakraborty and other high officials were present.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

NATO: Russia misleads world on troop movements near Ukraine

NATO allies accused Russia of misleading the world and disseminating “disinformation” by saying it was returning some troops to bases, charging that Moscow has instead added as many as 7,000 more troops near its tense border with Ukraine.

With Western fears high that Russia is planning to invade, tensions also spiked Thursday along the line that separates Ukrainian forces from Russia-backed separatists in the country’s east, with the parties accusing each other of intensive shelling.

After a handful of positive signals from Russia that lowered the temperature in the crisis earlier in the week, the pendulum appeared to be swinging in the opposite direction again. With an estimated 150,000-plus troops massed near Ukraine, the Kremlin offered to keep pursuing diplomatic solutions — an overture the NATO chief welcomed, even as he and others warned that the U.S.-led alliance has still seen no sign of the military withdrawal that Moscow announced.

“We have seen the opposite of some of the statements. We have seen an increase of troops over the last 48 hours, up to 7,000,” said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace ahead of a meeting Thursday of the western alliance in Brussels.

That squared with what a U.S. administration official said a day earlier.

British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey even called Russia’s claim to be withdrawing troops “disinformation.”

While the West warned the threat of invasion remains high, no attack materialized Wednesday, as some had feared.

Moscow said several times this week that some forces are pulling back to their bases, but it gave virtually no details that would allow for an independent assessment of the scope and direction of the troop movement, and Western leaders quickly cast doubt on those statements. On Thursday, NATO allies knocked down the Russian assertions again — and warned that they are ready to counter any aggression.

“The consequences of this mass buildup – nearly 60% of Russia’s land combat forces on the border of a sovereign nation – will get you the opposite effect,” Wallace said.

“We are deadly serious,” he added, “and we’re going to face the threat that is currently being posed.”

Already the alliance has moved troops and military equipment into Eastern Europe — in a display of resolve of meant to deter any Russian aggression and underline its intent to defend NATO’s eastern members, in the unlikely event that they too become a target.

The U.S. has started to deploy 5,000 troops to Poland and Romania. A further 8,500 more are on standby. Britain is sending hundreds of soldiers to Poland, offering more warships and planes, and doubling the number of personnel in Estonia. Germany, the Netherlands and Norway are sending additional troops to Lithuania. Denmark and Spain are providing jets for air policing in the Baltic Sea region.

While Ukraine braces for a potential invasion, tensions soared in the conflict in the country’s east where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014.

Separatist authorities in the Luhansk region reported an increase in Ukrainian shelling along the tense line of contact, describing it as a “large-scale provocation.” Separatist official Rodion Miroshnik said that rebel forces returned fire.

Ukraine disputed the claim, saying that separatists had shelled its forces, but they didn’t fire back. The Ukrainian military command charged that shells hit a kindergarten building in Stanytsia Luhanska, wounding two civilians, and cut power supply to half of the town.

An observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is expected to offer its assessment of the situation later Thursday.

Many in the West are concerned that a flare-up in the east could be used by Russia as a pretext for rolling across the border — though there was no sign yet that the latest fighting was larger than what typically happens. Russia, in turn, aired worries that hawkish forces in Ukraine, encouraged by the West, could launch an attack to reclaim control of the rebel areas — plans Ukrainian authorities deny.

A 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany helped end the worst of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, but regular skirmishes have continued and a political settlement has stalled.

The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to hold its annual meeting on the agreement on Thursday.

Russia denies it is plotting an invasion but says it’s free to deploy troops wherever it deems necessary to counter threats from NATO. It wants the West to keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of NATO, halt weapons deployments near Russian borders and roll back forces from Eastern Europe, the demands the allis have flatly rejected.

There have been some suggestions Ukraine could decide to abandon its hope of joining NATO — something written into its constitution — as a way out of the crisis. It’s not clear how or if it would do that.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted Thursday that some NATO members don’t want the country to join.

“Not all members of the alliance want Ukraine in NATO,” he said without naming specific countries. “It’s not the Ukrainian people’s choice when we will be there, because it doesn’t only depend on us — 30 countries must reach consensus on that decision.”

While the U.S. and its allies have roundly rejected Moscow’s demands to bar membership to Ukraine, they offered to engage in talks with Russia on limits on missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military drills and other confidence-building measures.

Russian President Vladimir Putin charged that Moscow had offered to discuss those issues years ago, but the West only agreed to talk about them now. He said that Russia was ready to talk about them now, but only in conjunction with its main security demands.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow was sending its formal reply on those issues to the U.S. and NATO later Thursday and will make it public.

Even as Russia seemed to try to ease tensions this week, the Western allies maintained that the threat of an attack remained high.

Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that has been monitoring the Russian buildup, reported continued heightened military activity near Ukraine, including a new pontoon bridge and a new field hospital in Belarus. It also said that some forces had left an airfield in the country, a Russian ally, but it was unclear where they went.

A senior U.S. administration official said some forces arrived only recently and that there had been a marked increase in false claims by Russians that the Kremlin might use as pretext for an invasion. The official said those claims included reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by Ukrainian forces, assertions that the U.S. and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims that the West is funneling in guerrillas to kill Ukrainians.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive operations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official did not provide underlying evidence for the assertions.

The rebels in eastern Ukraine have made such claims for weeks, and they were featured in some Russian media reports.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC News that Russian President Vladimir Putin “can pull the trigger. He can pull it today. He can pull it tomorrow. He can pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Some Dhaka areas to see disruption in gas supplies Thursday

Gas supplies will remain suspended for 12 hours in different areas of the capital from 9am to 9pm Thursday due to works on gas pipeline replacement.

The areas are Hatirpul, Circular Road, Free School Street, Green Road, Kathalbagan, East Rajabazar, West Rajabazar, Shukrabad, and Indira Road, said Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company.

The consumers in the nearby areas may experience low pressure in supply too, it added.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Kosovo says its excellent relation with Bangladesh a model

The relations between Bangladesh and Kosovo can serve as a good example for countries that are still reluctant to have formal relations with Kosovo, said the country’s embassy here on Thursday.

“Relations between the two countries are developing rapidly and can be considered friendly and excellent,” said the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in Dhaka celebrating its 14th anniversary of Independence.

For a short time, the Embassy said they initiated cooperation in different fields with Bangladesh.

With the engagement of two parties, bilateral trade is increasing day by day, the cooperation between our institutions is at a satisfactory level, Bangladeshi students for the first time in history started to choose Kosovo as their destination for high education, Kosovar companies started to employ Bangladeshi personnel, it sad.

Kosovo said they will continue demonstrating the seriousness of being a functional State and reliable partner with all its institutions as an international legal entity.

As a young country, Kosovo set out the goal for more social peace, more freedom, more justice, and more commitment to sustainable development.

“Despite some difficulties the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo are immensely proud of the progress of the country since its independence,” said the Embassy in a message.

Kosovo has many reasons to be hopeful for a better future, it said.

“This year in our economic growth percentage reached two digits. During these years, besides State and institutional level and private sector`s achievements we are also proud of the success of our people in every field, especially in arts and sports,” said the embassy.

The Republic of Kosovo is committed to establish strong democracy inside and having peaceful and constructive relations with all the international legal entities.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

US official: Russia adds 7K more troops near Ukraine border

Ukrainians defied pressure from Moscow with a national show of flag-waving unity Wednesday, while the U.S. warned that Russia had added as many as 7,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders despite Kremlin declarations that forces were being pulled back from the region.

While a Russian invasion of Ukraine did not materialize as feared, the United States and its allies maintained that the threat is still strong, with Europe’s security and economic stability in the balance.

Russia has massed more than 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine, according to Western estimates. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled that he wants a peaceful path out of the crisis, and U.S. President Joe Biden promised that the U.S. would continue to give diplomacy “every chance,” but he struck a skeptical tone about Moscow’s intentions. Biden also insisted that Washington and its allies would not “sacrifice basic principles” respecting Ukraine sovereignty.

Russian Defense Ministry video showed a trainload of armored vehicles moving across a bridge away from Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. It also announced that more tank units were being loaded on trains to move back to their permanent bases after training exercises.

But at the same time, Russia continued war games near Ukraine’s borders and across its vast territory.

A senior U.S. administration official said the West detected that Russia had increased its force near Ukraine by 7,000 troops, with some arriving as recently as Wednesday, and that there had been a marked increase in false claims by Russians that the Kremlin might use as pretext for an invasion.

The official said those claims included reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by Ukrainian forces, statements that the U.S. and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims that the West is funneling in guerrillas to kill Ukrainians.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive operations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official did not provide underlying evidence for the assertions.

The U.S. and Europe are maintaining threats of harsh sanctions. Trust between East and West remains elusive.

“We haven’t seen a pullback,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC News. “He (Putin) can pull the trigger. He can pull it today. He can pull it tomorrow. He can pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. had seen “more Russian forces, not fewer.”

Asked why Russians would claim to be withdrawing when government intelligence, commercial satellite photos and social media videos showed no evidence of that, Price said: “This is the Russian playbook, to paint a picture publicly … while they do the opposite.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance also had not seen “any withdrawal of Russian forces,” as did multiple European governments. Before chairing a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, he said: “If they really start to withdraw forces, that’s something we will welcome, but that remains to be seen.”

In the meantime, the alliance is examining this week how and when to rapidly dispatch troops and equipment to countries closest to Russia and the Black Sea region should Moscow order an invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy similarly dismissed the Russian withdrawal claims.

“What is this? Rotations, withdrawal, returning back again,” he said on a visit to the southeastern city of Mariupol. “It’s too early to rejoice.”

The Ukrainian leader has repeatedly sought to project calm as well as strength during the crisis, declaring Wednesday a “Day of National Unity.”

“We are united by a desire to happily live in peace,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the nation earlier in the day. “We can defend our home only if we stay united.”

Across the country, Ukrainians of all ages waved flags in the streets and from apartment windows.

Hundreds unfolded a 200-meter (650-foot) flag at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, while another was draped in the center of a shopping mall in the capital.

In the government-controlled part of Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014, residents stretched another huge flag across a street.

“This event, this number of people united around Ukrainian flag will show that we stand for united Ukraine,” said resident Olena Tkachova.

A 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany helped end the worst of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, but implementation has stalled. The deal, known as the Minsk agreement, would offer broad self-rule to the separatist territories and thus is resented by many in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian government official said in a television interview that Zelenskyy would consider holding a referendum on the Minsk agreement “if there are no other options or instruments.” But Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said she was unaware that such an idea was under serious discussion.

Russia has repeatedly complained that the U.S. and NATO have not responded satisfactorily in writing to its security concerns. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday that Russia is in the final phase of preparing its formal response to the West. “After that, a schedule of further steps will be developed,” she said on state television.

The Kremlin wants the West to keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of NATO, halt weapons deployments near Russian borders and roll back forces from Eastern Europe. The U.S. and its allies have roundly rejected those demands, but they offered to engage in talks with Russia on ways to bolster security in Europe.

For now, Russia is flexing its muscle. Russian fighter jets flew training missions Wednesday over neighboring Belarus and paratroopers held shooting drills at firing ranges there as part of massive war games that the West feared could be used as cover for an invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei reaffirmed that all Russian troops and weapons will leave the country when the maneuvers end Sunday.

Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that has been monitoring the Russian buildup, reported Wednesday that new photos show heightened Russian military activity near Ukraine, including the construction of a pontoon bridge in Belarus less than 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

Russia has mocked Western warnings about an imminent invasion as “paranoia” and “madness.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed sarcastically at warnings of an invasion that could start Wednesday, saying that Russian officials had a good sleep.

Asked by German daily Welt if Russia was going to attack Wednesday, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, quipped: “Wars in Europe rarely start on a Wednesday.”

“There won’t be an escalation next week either, on in the week after, or in the coming month,” he said.

But British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News that instead of a Russian withdrawal, “we’ve seen continued buildup of things like field hospitals and strategic weapons systems.”

The White House will lean on Vice President Kamala Harris to help with diplomatic efforts when she travels to Germany to take part in this weekend’s Munich Security Conference, officials said. Harris is scheduled to meet Friday with Stoltenberg and hold a multilateral meeting with the leaders of the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. She’s also scheduled to deliver a major address Saturday on the administration’s efforts to stop Russian aggression. After the speech, Harris is slated to meet with Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Xi, Macron hold phone talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday afternoon said China stands ready to work with France to advance the ratification of the China-EU investment agreement and its entry into force.

He also called for joint efforts to make a success of the China-EU leaders’ meeting, and the new round of high-level dialogues on strategic, economic and trade, green, digital and people-to-people affairs, so as to bring tangible benefits to the people on both sides.

Xi made the remarks in a phone conversation with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.

Macron pledges full support for Beijing Winter Olympics, Paralympics

French President Emmanuel Macron said France has always supported and will continue to fully support the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Macron made the remarks in a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday afternoon, during which he conveyed new spring greetings to Xi and the Chinese people for the Year of the Tiger.

He also extended congratulations on the splendid and successful opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, noting that it is a quite demanding task for China to host the event as scheduled under the current circumstances.

Xi pointed out that the fact that the Beijing Winter Olympics has unfolded smoothly as scheduled demonstrates that the international community yearns for peace, unity and progress.

He also extended new spring greetings to Macron and the French people, and offered congratulations on the achievements of French athletes.

Xi urges related parties to adhere to political settlement of Ukraine issue

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday stressed that related parties should stick to the general direction of political settlement of the Ukraine issue.

The Chinese president also emphasized that related parties should make full use of multilateral platforms including the Normandy format, and seek a comprehensive settlement of the Ukraine issue through dialogue and consultation.

Xi made the remarks in a phone conversation in the afternoon with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, who presented his view on the current situation in Ukraine.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

MEA sets up control room to assist Indians in Ukraine

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India has set up a control room to provide information and assistance to Indians in Ukraine in view of the prevailing situation there.

MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi took to Twitter and put out the helpline numbers launched for assistance amid the Russia-Ukraine tensions, reports INDIA TODAY.

Arindam Bagchi added that the Indian embassy in Ukraine has also set up a 24×7 emergency helpline.

Fresh advisory for Indian students

The Indian embassy in Ukraine issued a fresh advisory on Wednesday for students, asking them not to panic and book the earliest available and convenient flights to travel to India.

The Indian embassy in Kyiv has been receiving several appeals regarding the non-availability of flights from Ukraine to India, officials said.

“At present, Ukrainian International Airlines, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Qatar Airways are among the operating flights. To meet the additional demand, more flights are being planned in the near future, said the Embassy. Details on the same would be shared by the Embassy as and when confirmed,” the advisory said.

India is considering increasing the number of flights between India and Ukraine even as parents of some Indian students in Ukraine expressed concerns over the current situation in the country.

“Discussions are underway with civil aviation authorities and various airlines on how to increase the number of flights between India and Ukraine,” sources told India Today TV.

The statement came a day after the Embassy of India in Kyiv issued an advisory for Indian nationals in Ukraine. On Tuesday, the Indian embassy advised its citizens in Ukraine to temporarily leave that country amid escalating tension between Russia and NATO countries.

“The Embassy continues to monitor developments,” sources said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

BNP chalks out 2-day programme to observe Ekushey February

BNP on Thursday announced a two-day programme to observe the Shaheed Day and International Mother Language Day with due respect on February 21.

BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi announced the programmes at a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan central office.

The Ekushey February will be observed simultaneously as Shaheed Dibas and International Mother Language Day in recognition of the Bengali nation’s supreme sacrifice to the cause of their mother tongue. In 1999, UNESCO declared the 21st of February as the International Mother Language Day.

As part of the programmes, Rizvi said their party will hold a discussion on February 20, marking the day.

He said they will keep their party and national flags at half-mast and hoist black flags at BNP Nayapaltan central office at 6 am on February 21.

The leaders and activists of the party will also gather in front of Balaka Cinema Hall at Nilkhet at 6 am wearing black badges the same day. Later, they will first offer fateha at the graves of Language Movement martyrs at Azimpur Graveyard and then go to the Central Shaheed Minar to pay tributes to the martyrs.

Besides, BNP’s different units across the country will also observe the day with due respect amid various programmes.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Bangladesh, Australia eye larger trade, investment ties

Bangladesh and Australia have discussed ways to expand trade and identify scopes for investment between the two countries that eye to emerge as key trade partners.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to Australia Sufiur Rahman had a “fruitful” meeting with Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Dan Tehan at his parliament office on Thursday and expressed their confidence to realise immense potentials so as to emerge as key trade partners.

The meeting was held ahead of the upcoming Joint Working Group’s (formed under Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement signed on 15 September 2021) meeting scheduled to be held on February 22 in Canberra.

They expressed that the JWG would operationalise TIFA beyond optics, and advance trade and investment interactions for mutual benefit.

Australia has recently announced to commission multiple studies to identify key opportunities in Bangladesh for Australian businesses in the infrastructure, IT, mining, and other potential sectors, that the Bangladesh High Commission has repeatedly been advocating for the last three years.

The meeting was attended by Gary Cowan, First Assistant Secretary North and South Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Lachlan Smith, Adviser to the Minister.

Source: United News of Bangladesh