Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will pay a two-day official visit to the Maldives, the largest labour market for Bangladesh in South Asia, on December 22-23 to take the relations between the two countries to newer heights.

The Prime Minister will fly to Male on a special flight on December 22 and be received at the airport by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Khaleel.

On Thursday (Dec 23) morning, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will formally welcome the Prime Minister and then she will be given Guard of Honour.

After receiving the guard of honour, the Prime Minister will proceed to the Presidential Palace. The President of the Maldives will hold a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister at the venue.

After the meeting, the two countries are likely to sign four bilateral documents -- agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, MoU on cooperation in the area of youth and sports development, MoU on recruitment of qualified health professionals and MoU in the areas of healthcare and medical sciences between Bangladesh and Maldives (renewal).

At the request of the Maldivian Defence Ministry, 13 military vehicles, provided by the Bangladesh Army, will be handed over to the Maldivian Defence Ministry as a token of friendship.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen briefed the media at Foreign Service Academy on the Prime Minister's forthcoming visit to the Maldives.

Secretary (East) Mashfee Binte Shams and Secretary (Maritime Affairs Unit) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam were, among others, present.

Dr Momen said the two countries are working to sign an agreement on "exchange of sentenced prisoners" but not extradition treaty.

The Maldives, however, could not complete their work as the legal process on their part is yet to complete.

The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh is giving much emphasis on connectivity with the Maldives and there has been much progress on the air connectivity front.

He said a private airline -- US-Bangla Airlines -- has started flight operations with the Maldives while national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines will soon begin its flight operations on the same route.

Responding to a question, Dr Momen said the Maldives could not progress much in terms of finalizing the preferential trade agreement due to the Covid situation.

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih visited Bangladesh in March and joined Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's birth centenary celebrations and Bangladesh's Golden Jubilee of independence on March 17 as guest of honour.

During the visit, he invited Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit the Maldives which was accepted.

In November, Vice President of the Maldives Faisal Naseem also visited Bangladesh.

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