Japanese foreign minister meets Bangladeshi counterpart

Visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Bangladeshi counterpart A.H. Mahmood Ali agreed in talks here Saturday to strengthen existing economic and trade relations and face the challenges of climate change.

In the talks, Kishida announced that Japan will provide 120 billion yen (about $1.16 billion) in yen loans to finance infrastructure projects.

Kishida said that it is important to improve the country's investment environment such as by ensuring a stable supply of energy, to which Ali replied that his government hopes to do so to the extent possible.

The two ministers touched on a wide range of bilateral issues, including official development assistance, Foreign Ministry sources said.

Bangladesh's economy has been growing 5 to 6 percent per year on the back of foreign investment centered on its garment industry.

The number of Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh nearly tripled to 176 in 2013 from 61 in 2007, reflecting the so-called "China Plus One" strategy under which many Japanese buyers are searching for new suppliers outside of China.

The meeting is expected to lend further momentum to the existing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Japan, which is the single largest bilateral development partner of Bangladesh, said a ministry official.

Koichi Mizushima, deputy press secretary of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, said in a press briefing that Kishida's visit was aimed at renewing bilateral cooperation which has been "traditionally very friendly."

Kishida, who is leading a 20-member delegation, arrived here on Friday evening for a two-day visit to hold talks on promoting bilateral cooperation between the two countries. He is the first foreign minister to visit Dhaka since the country's Jan. 5 parliamentary election.

Before his departure for Myanmar on Saturday, Kishida also met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during which he extended an invitation to her to visit Japan.