June 13 (Reuters) – Increased defence cooperation will be among the topics discussed when Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said on Sunday.
“China is the largest defence hardware supplier to Bangladesh. So talks on enhancement of the defence cooperation will be in the agenda,” Moni told a news conference, without giving details.
Bangladesh will soon add two new Chinese frigates to boost its naval fleet and increase its number of frigates to seven, a defence official told Reuters.
Officials say boosting naval capabilities is important for Bangladesh to maintain surveillance in its territory in the Bay Bengal, rich in natural resources and hydro-carbons.
Bangladesh briefly deployed naval ships in a disputed part of the bay after Myanmar began exploring for oil and gas there in October 2008.
Bangladesh withdrew the ships after Myanmar stopped the exploration, when China, a friend to both the neighbouring countries, expressed deep concern.
China agreed to provide the frigates during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Beijing in March, the official said asking not to identify him.
Bangladesh last added a frigate, built by South Korea, in 2001, when Hasina was also prime minister.
Xi arrives in Dhaka on Monday on a two-day visit, on the first-leg of a four nation tour. He will also visit Laos, New Zealand and Australia until June 24, Chinese embassy officials said.
He will also discuss regional, international and bilateral issues including economic and technical cooperations, Moni said. (Reporting by Nizam Ahmed)