Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said Bangladesh and France are opening up new areas of cooperation in strategic assets and advanced technologies.

"France has been our trusted development partner since our independence. We have developed a robust trade partnership with focus on responsible business conduct. We are opening up new areas of cooperation in strategic assets and advanced technologies," she said.

The premier said this at a banquet hosted by her in honour of French President Emmanuel Macron at Hotel Intercontinental Dhaka here in the city.

Hasina said she is confident that the bilateral relations can move to strategic engagements for the shared prosperity for all in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

"Our partnership can be a meaningful force to address the multiple crises of wars, climate change and cost-of-living that our world is facing," she said.

The PM recalled the warm hospitality she received at the Elysee Palace (the official residence of the President of the French Republic) during her visit to France in November 2021.

"The people of Bangladesh join me in welcoming you and your delegation here," she said, greeting the French president.

"France holds a special place in our hearts and imagination," said Hasina adding that her father, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was greatly inspired by the spirit of the French Revolution.

She said Bangabandhu dedicated his life to promoting the values of liberty, equality and fraternity in his fight for self-determination. This was also reflected in his historic speech of 7th March 1971.

"Our struggle this time is for our liberation. Our struggle this time is for independence" she quoted as saying by Bangabandhu in the historic speech.

The PM said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib's call for freedom echoed with global intellectuals like Andre Malraux who mobilized a number of young people to fight for Bangladesh's cause. "It often strikes me that President Macron with his Forward March movement carries the proud legacy of Malraux and his followers," she said.

She admired Macron for the many bold reforms he has undertaken in France. "We find you to be a breath of fresh air in international politics. Your push for strategic autonomy largely aligns with our own foreign policy dictum 'Friendship to all, malice towards none'- given to us by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," she said.

On a lighter note, Hasina said, "We have arranged for you to have a taste of our unique kacchi biriyani. Both our nations are extremely proud of our cuisine, culture and linguistic heritage. It is time to promote further interface and fusion between our two cultures to bring our two peoples closer to each other."

"May I propose a toast to your health with another delicacy of ours - juice made of Amra - a popular local fruit," she said.

President Macron, the first French president to visit Bangladesh in 33 years, arrived here on Sunday evening.

PM Hasina received Macron at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on his arrival from New Delhi around 8:30pm.

The two leaders will hold a summit meeting at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday morning. Also on Monday they are expected to witness the signing of a couple of bilateral instruments and hold a joint press briefing.

Macron will pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi 32 on Monday morning.

The French president is scheduled to leave Dhaka at 2pm on Monday.

Smoked Hilsha with piazo and somosa and mulligatawny soup with artisanal and bread and butter were served at dinner.

The main items served to Macron were mutton kacchi biryani, beef seekh kebab, chicken korma, sour aubergine, traditional luchi bread and roasted lobster.

The deserted items were pathishapta pitha, sweet yoghurt, rosogolla and fresh fruit cuts and the beverage were arma juice, selection of fresh juices, selection of water and soft drinks and selection of tea and coffee.

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