Sanctions force Asian state to ditch dollar payments to Russia – Nikkei Asia

Bangladesh is set to make loan repayments in Chinese yuan for a nuclear power plant being built by Russia, as a way to sidestep Western sanctions, Nikkei Asia reported on Monday.

According to the news outlet, the decision follows last week’s high-level talks between the sides, where it was agreed that the bills could be paid in yuan. Bangladesh owes Russia the equivalent of $110 million for the facility, which is still under construction.

“Because of the sanctions against Russian banks… we couldn't process payments in US dollars,” Uttam Kumar Karmaker, additional secretary of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Finance’s Economic Relations Division, told Nikkei. “Russia asked us to settle the payments in their currency, rubles, but that was not feasible. So, we both opted for yuan,” he explained.

The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) is Bangladesh's largest infrastructure project and is part of the country’s plans to move away from coal and other fossil fuels. It is located about 140 kilometers west of the capital, Dhaka. Once operational, the facility will be capable of generating 2,400 megawatts of power. Russia’s state-owned company Rosatom is building the $12.65 billion project, with Moscow providing 90% of the funds for the construction.

Under the agreement, Bangladesh will settle payments with Russia via a Chinese bank, Nikkei wrote. Russian beneficiaries will reportedly receive the funds through China’s Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS), since many Russian banks have been cut off from the SWIFT system.

“Given the significance of this power plant project, it is natural that Bangladesh will try to keep it going at any cost,” Shafquat Rabbee, an adjunct instructor at the University of Dallas business department in the United States, noted.

The RNPP is expected to start supplying power in mid-2024 and produce electricity for a minimum of 60 years. It will add Bangladesh to the list of more than 30 nations that have operating nuclear power reactors.

Source: Russia Today

2 get life term for killing expatriate’s mother, wife in Habiganj

A court here today sentenced two youths to life term imprisonment for killing the mother and wife of an expatriate in Nabiganj upazila of the district in 2018.

Additional District and Sessions Judge court-1 judge Md. Azizul Haque pronounced the verdict this afternoon.

The convicts are - Taleb Hossain, son of Amir Hossain, resident of Amoil village of Nabiganj upazila and Zakaria Ahmed, son of Hafizur Rahman Shubo, a resident of Khagawra village of Baniachong upazila.

The court also fined them Taka 500,000 each, in default, to suffer five years more rigorous imprisonment in jail each.

According to prosecution, on night 13 May, 2018 the accused entered the victim's house of Sadullahpur village under Nabiganj upazila and killed Rumi Begum, wife of London expatriate Akhlak Chowdhury and his mother Mala Begum.

Nazrul Islam, the victim Rumi Begum's brother, filed a murder case with Nabiganj police station.

Police arrested Taleb and Zakaria Ahmed Shubo and they gave a confessional statement under section 164 in the court of the senior judicial magistrate.

Later, police submitted a charge-sheet against two accused to the court.

After examining the record and witnesses, the court found them guilty.

Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Advocate Saleh Uddin Ahmed confirmed the matter.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Sunstroke at Maha event: Death toll rises to 12

One more patient undergoing treatment after suffering from sunstroke at an award function in Navi Mumbai has died, officials said on Monday.

With this, the death toll in the incident has gone up to 12.

A 55-year-old man from Kalyan, who was critical, died late night. Two more persons are battling for life, a senior doctor at a civic-run hospital in Vashi said.

Earlier on Sunday, at least 11 people died due to sunstroke as the 'Maharashtra Bhushan' award function, attended by lakhs, was held in an open ground in Kharghar area of Maharashtra's Raigad district.

One more person died late night, taking the toll to 12.

The deceased included eight women and four men.

Eleven of the deceased have been identified as Vinayak Haldankar (55), Tulsiram Wangad (58) from Thane, Mahesh Gaikar (42) from Mumbai, Swapnil Kini (30) from Palghar, Jayshree Patil (54), Vandana Patil (62) from Raigad, Manjusha Bombde (51), Savita Pawar (42) from Mumbai, Kalawati Vaychal (46) from Solapur, Bhima Salvi (58) and Pushpa Gaikar (64) from Thane. Another woman, in the age group of 50-55, was yet to be identified.

An official release from Navi Mumbai police said during the function when children and women lay on roads seeking drinking water, a senior police inspector from Kharghar along with his team carried water for them.

Since three days, police personnel, including women, from across the state were deployed in and around the venue and they remained there even after the event despite the scorching sun, it said. Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Milind Bharambhe was on the ground throughout along with a number of senior officials. "There was no no stampede," the release said.

Many women collapsed due to excessive heat and the policemen on duty drove them on motorbikes through the crowd to medical assistance centres for first aid and saved their lives, the release said. Earlier in the day, Raigad district information officer said 44 people were admitted to five hospitals in and around Kharghar. Out of them, 20 are still undergoing treatment while the others have been discharged. Lakhs of people had come for the event held on a 306-acre ground in Kharghar.

The nearest weather station to the spot had recorded a maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius. Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Ajit Pawar has sought an inquiry into how the 'Maharashtra Bhushan' award event was organised in Navi Mumbai during noon time when the temperature is very high.

Union Minister Amit Shah on Sunday conferred the Maharashtra Bhushan Award on spiritual leader and social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari at the event. Dharmadhikari has a massive following in the state due to his tree plantation drives, blood donation and medical camps as well as de-addiction work in tribal areas.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had termed the deaths "very unfortunate" and said the kin of the deceased will be given a compensation of Rs 5 lakh

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

AL pays tribute to Bangabandhu on Mujibnagar Day

The ruling Awami League and different social and political organisations today paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the occasion of the historic Mujibnagar Day.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid respect to Bangabandhu by placing a wreath at his portrait at Dhanmondi 32 here.

After laying the wreath, the primer stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memory of Bangabandhu, the architect of the independence.

Later, flanked by senior leaders of her party, Sheikh Hasina, also the AL president placed another wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu as the party chief.

AL general secretary Obaidul Quader, AL presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, Shajahan Khan, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya (Bir Bikram), Dr Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, Advocate Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, organising secretaries Ahmad Hossain and Sujit Roy Nandi, science and technology affairs secretary Abdus sabur, publicity and publication secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, information and research affairs secretary Dr Selim Mahmud, cultural affairs secretary Asim Kumar Ukil, relief and social welfare secretary Aminul Islam Amin, office secretary Biplab Barua and deputy office secretary Sayeem Khan were, among others, present on the occasion.

Afterwards, different affiliated organisations of the AL, including Bangladesh Chattra League, Krisak League and Dhaka south and north city units of the AL, placed wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu.

The AL leaders and activists also placed wreaths at the graves of Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad and M Mansur Ali at Banani Graveyard here

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

AL to hold joint meeting on Wednesday

A joint meeting of Bangladesh Awami League's

(AL's) presidium members, secretaries and members and presidents and

general secretaries of Dhaka city north and south units of the party as well

as its associate bodies will be held at the party president's political office in

Dhanmondi here at 11 am on Wednesday (April 19).

AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader

will preside over the meeting, said a press release signed by AL office

secretary Biplab Barua today.

All concerned have been requested to attend the meeting in time, following

the health guidelines.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

BNP conspires sensing defeat in next polls: Quader

Awami League (AL) General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader today said BNP has chosen the way of conspiracy sensing defeat in the next national parliament elections.

"There is a deep conspiracy on our way ...conspiracy is underway to oust Bangabandhu's daughter and the political evil force is intriguing. They will not win the upcoming polls against Sheikh Hasina and that's why, BNP is leading the conspiracy", he said.

The minister told the newsmen after paying homage at the portrait of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in front of Bangabandhu Bhaban at Dhanmondi road no-32 here on the historic Mujibnagar Day.

Quader said, "We are pledging to build smart Bangladesh and we have to resist and defeat political evil force BNP, militant elements and communal force those are creating impediment on the way of development and prosperity".

"We will go ahead to build Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu and it is the pledge of the day", he added.

About country's achievement the ruling party leader also said country's achievement is not zero, adding Bangabandhu's least development country (LDC) is now a developing country under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.

"Now our pledge is to build a modern Smart Bangladesh by 2041. But, there are obstructions and even challenges on the way to reach the target as well", he said.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Mercury may dip from tomorrow, rain likely: met office

After a spell of severe heatwave, met office forecast some relief from the scorching heat as maximum temperatures are likely to drop from tomorrow across the country.

Director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) Md Azizur Rahman told BSS that "Mercury may fall gradually from tomorrow... we will get some relief from severe heatwave as rains are likely to hit different parts of the country after two or three days."

Weather may remain dry with temporary partly cloudy sky over the country, having chances of rain or thundershowers at one or two places over some divisions across the country.

"Weather may remain dry with temporary partly cloudy sky over the country, having chances of rain or thundershowers at one or two places over Barishal, Chattogram and Sylhet divisions," said the met office forecast for the next twenty-four hours begins from 9am today.

Severe heat wave is sweeping over Khulna division and the districts of

Dhaka, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Manikganj, Narayanganj, Rajshahi and Pabna.

Mild to moderate heat wave is sweeping elsewhere over the country and it may continue, the met office bulletin added.

Day and night temperature may remain nearly unchanged over the country.

Trough of low lies over West Bengal and adjoining areas. Seasonal low lies over the South Bay.

Country's maximum temperature on Sunday was recorded 41.8 degrees Celsius

jointly at Jashore and Chuadanga while today's minimum temperature 21.5

degrees Celsius was recorded at Rajarhat.

The sun sets at 6.21 pm today and rises at 5.35 am tomorrow in the capital.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Archery team left for Turkey

A ten-member of Bangladesh archery team left here for Turkey today (Monday) morning to participate in the Archery World Cup stage-1 scheduled to be held in Antalya from April 18-23.

223 men and 171 of women archers from 52 countries across the globe will take part the meet, said a press release.

Archery team's sponsor City Group and Youth and Sports Ministry will bear all the expense of the tour of Bangladesh archery team.

Bangladesh archery team - Mohammad Hakim Ahmed Rubel, Md Sagaor Islam, Ramkrishno Saha and Abdur Rahman Alif (recurve men), Diya Siddique (recurve woman) Mohammad Ashikuzzaman (compound man) and Puspita Zaman (compound woman).

Officials- Anisur Rahman (team manager), Martin Frederick (head coach) and Mohammad Hasan (trainer).

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Czech PM Petr Fiala to visit Vietnam this week

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala will pay an official visit to Vietnam from April 20-22.

The visit will be made at the invitation of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, according to an announcement of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

President hosts ASEAN ambassadors

President Vo Van Thuong hosted a reception in Hanoi on April 17 for ASEAN ambassadors who came to congratulate him on being elected as the Vietnamese State leader.

On behalf of the ASEAN diplomats, Indonesian Ambassador Denny Abdi conveyed congratulations and greetings from leaders of Indonesia and ASEAN member states to President Thuong.

He affirmed that over the past 28 years, Vietnam has played an important role in strengthening the solidarity and central role of ASEAN, as well as in building the ASEAN Community Vision beyond 2025. Vietnam's GDP growth of 8.02% last year will generate momentum for regional economic development.

Committing to actively supporting and contributing effectively to further enhancing the relationship between Vietnam and ASEAN countries, he believed that under the sound leadership of the President, their friendship and cooperation will increasingly grow, making important contributions to maintaining peace, security and stability in the region.

Hailing the theme of ASEAN this year "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth", which reflects the role of the bloc in the region and the shared aspirations of ASEAN for development in peace, prosperity and harmony, Thuong affirmed that Vietnam will accompany ASEAN 2023 Chair, and all member countries in achieving these goals.

ASEAN holds an extremely important position, and is an integral part of Vietnam's foreign policy. Unity, flexibility, harmony and inclusiveness are the "golden keys" to opening the door to a new regional space with ASEAN at the centre, toward realising the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and beyond, with the community spirit permeating among people of all strata, he said.

Vietnam always attaches importance to ties with Southeast Asian neighbouring countries, he added.

According to him, Vietnam and Southeast Asian nations have been working closely together in all important fields such as national defence-security, economy, trade, investment, education-training, and people-to-people exchange, and expanding into new areas in the industry 4.0 era, such as innovation, digital transformation, digital connectivity, circular economy, green economy, clean energy, among others.

The host wished that ambassadors would serve as important bridges, contributing more to promoting friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and ASEAN member states.

On the occasion of the traditional New Year of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Ramadan in Muslim countries, Thuong extended his warmest wishes to the leaders and people of these countries./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Bomb blast injures eight people in southern Philippines

A homemade bomb ripped through a bus in the southern Philippines on April 17, injuring at least eight people, a military spokesperson said.

Army Major Andrew Linao of the Western Mindanao Command said the bomb went off as the bus with an unspecified number of passengers rolled into the transport terminal around 12:20 pm (local time) in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province.

The victims, aged 13 to 60, suffered injuries and were taken to a local hospital for treatment, Linao said, adding that no group has claimed responsibility for the attack./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

PM welcomes first visit to Vietnam by Austrian foreign minister

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh welcomed the first visit to Vietnam by Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs Alexander Schallenberg during a reception for the latter in Hanoi on April 17.

PM Chinh hailed the outcomes of the earlier talks between Schallenberg and Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, as well as a Vietnam-Austria cooperation forum with the participation of the two countries’ businesses the same day.

In its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralisation of external ties, active and proactive global integration in a comprehensive and extensive manner, Vietnam always values and wants to reinforce cooperative ties with Austria, an important partner of the European Union, he said.

Schallenberg affirmed that the Austrian Government always considers Vietnam a prioritised partner in the region and looks to expand cooperation with the Southeast Asian country in various areas.

The PM thanked the Austrian Government and people for providing invaluable support for Vietnam in the process of national development and the past fight against COVID-19. He suggested both sides facilitate the exchange of delegations at all levels, especially those at high level to raise mutual trust and mutual understanding, creating a driving force for all-around collaboration.

Hailing Austria as one of the top 10 trading partners of Vietnam in Europe over the past years, the PM believed that the two countries' businesses will continue working closely together and tapping advantages brought about by the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to lift two-way trade to 4 billion USD in the coming years.

He wished that Austria would create favourable conditions for Vietnam's products such as electronics, apparel, leather and footwear, agricultural and aquatic products to access the Austrian and EU markets.

On the occasion, PM Chinh proposed the Austrian Government voice its support and call on the Austrian legislature to promptly ratify the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) and support the European Commission (EC)’s early removal of yellow card warning against Vietnamese seafood.

The Vietnamese leader underlined the need to step up bilateral cooperation in areas that both sides have strength and demand, such as sci-tech, infrastructure, labour, vocational training, digital transformation, circular economy and green transition. The two countries hold great potential to expand cooperation in cultural, art and music exchange, and tourism.

He expressed his wish that the Austrian Government would continue offering all possible support to the Vietnamese community living and working in Austria, thereby contributing to the prosperity of Austria and acting as a bridge to propel the bilateral cooperation.

Schallenberg, for his part, said Austria wants to further deepen its ties with Vietnam in all spheres, adding that the Austrian Government and business community are interested in practical and effective cooperation with Vietnamese partners.

He agreed that both sides should step up labour cooperation by considering the signing of cooperation agreements between the two governments, carrying out training projects between universities and on-the-job training at Austrian companies in Vietnam, as well as developing the labour market which has great potential.

The two sides vowed to support each other at multilateral and regional forums. Regarding the East Sea issue, they shared the importance of ensuring security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, as well as settling disputes through peaceful measures in accordance with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency