Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari has said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a charismatic leader, wellorganizer, person of determination and courage and stout freedom fighter.

"It was he (Bangabandhu) who pioneered the independence movement of Bangladesh ever since his youth," she said mentioning that Bangabandhu is a revered leader of this region.

The Nepalese President made the remarks while addressing as the guest of honour at the twin mega celebrations marking birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of Bangladesh's Independence on Monday.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were also present at the twin mega celebrations marking birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of Bangladesh's Independence.

On the occasion of the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu, she shared her views on the theme of "Nepal-Bangladesh Relations and Bangabandhu's Birth Centenary."

"As the celebrations on Bangabandhu's birth centenary is going on, I consider the continued progress of Bangladeshi people a fitting tribute to his contributions to the nation building process of Bangladesh," said the Nepalese President.

She said Bangabandhu's incessant struggle gave birth to Bangladesh and had showed unswerving leadership and unremitting action for it.

"In acknowledgement of his contribution, he was accorded the honoured title of Bangabandhu (Friend of the Bengalis) by then All Parties Students Action Committee in 1969. The entire Bangladesh instantly accepted it," said the Nepalese President.

She said Bangabandhu had deep love and esteem for Bangla language and he was the person who championed the cause for the protection and promotion of Bangla language with the support of Bangladeshi people.

"We also learn about his great compassion for the weak, downtrodden, poor and other citizens in difficulty," she said.

As an excellent orator, organizer and crusader, she said, Bangabandhu won the hearts and minds of the people of Bangladesh and attained the goal of creating a new nation.

Also, in her country, the government of Nepal has dedicated its entire efforts towards realizing the common national aspiration of Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali (Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali).

"With our incessant efforts, Nepal will achieve the status of a middle-income country before long. Our efforts are focused on turning Nepal a prosperous nation. I believe that the development efforts of Nepal and Bangladesh will contribute to socio-economic progress of whole South Asia," said the Nepalese President.

Now, she said, they are happy to see the celebrations of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu across Bangladesh in recognition of his role, contribution and sacrifice for the independence of Bangladesh.

"I would like to extend congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh," said the visiting Nepalese President.

She extended congratulations to the Government and the people of Bangladesh on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandu, the Father of the Nation.

She wished for the continued progress, prosperity and happiness of the friendly country Bangladesh. "Long Live Nepal-Bangladesh Relationship!"

She thanked the President of Bangladesh for inviting her to visit Bangladesh.

"It reflects the close and friendly relations existing between Nepal and Bangladesh. I am extremely pleased to participate in this programme organized to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu."

Connectivity Quintessential

Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Monday said connectivity is quintessential for smooth and wider interactions and engagements between Bangladesh and Nepal.

"Connectivity can be improved and the cost of transport and trade can be reduced," she said.

The Nepalese President was addressing as guest of honour on the theme of "Nepal-Bangladesh Relations and Bangabandhu's Birth Centenary"at a programme at National Parade Ground.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were also present at the twin mega celebrations marking birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of Bangladesh's Independence.

The volume of bilateral trade at present is moderate with enough scope for its expansion, she said.

"Nepal has an increasing trade deficit with Bangladesh. We need to minimize the trade deficit in order to make trade beneficial for both countries," said the Nepalese President.

Elimination of trade barriers, development of infrastructure and easy market access could significantly boost the trade relationship, she said.

Energy is another important area for the expansion of cooperation between our two countries.

"The two countries have already signed an MoU on cooperation in power. Nepal's hydropower and Bangladesh's natural gas can be the game-changers for our development needs. For our energy trade, it is imperative to strengthen trilateral cooperation among Nepal, Bangladesh and India," said the Nepalese President.

With a view to enhancing the connectivity networks, the Nepalese President said the two countries can add more flights to the existing Kathmandu-Dhaka sector and also connect by air major regional cities like Saidpur of Bangladesh and Biratnagar of Nepal.

Likewise, linkages of Nepal's rivers with that of India and Bangladesh will help develop waterways, she said.

Upgrading of roadways and development of railways and their linkages can also contribute meaningfully to this process, said the Nepalese President.

"I am happy to state that the process of including Rohanpur as a "Port of Call" for promoting bilateral trade through railway transit is moving ahead," she said.

President Bidya Devi said Nepal and Bangladesh are rich countries in terms of natural and human resources, history, civilization, culture, and so on.

Proper utilization of these valuable resources will be catalytic in transforming our development landscape, creating prosperity and happiness for our peoples, she said.

"We have been cooperating to enhance trade, transit, energy, connectivity, tourism, education, culture, and people-to people relations," she added.

The two countries are actively engaged in promoting common interest at multilateral forums through mutual support and cooperation. "We need to advance our partnership in these areas," President Bidya Devi said.

Given the natural beauty, rich historical and archaeological sites and cultural heritages of the two countries, both Nepal and Bangladesh can enormously benefit from the expansion of mutual cooperation in tourism sector, she said.

"Bangladeshi tourists can relish Nepal's snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys, rich bio-diversity, and the visit of important historical, archaeological and cultural sites. Likewise, Nepali tourists can visit beautiful sea beaches, mangrove forest and cultural and historical sites of Bangladesh," said President Bidya Devi.

Currently, a good number of Nepali students have been pursuing higher education in Bangladesh, especially in the medical and engineering fields.

Similarly, Bangladeshi students are having studies in Nepal in Buddhism, pharmacy and others fields.

"Enhancement of quality education, including providing required support to the students, will help further expand bilateral cooperation in this sector," she said.

Both Nepal and Bangladesh have been adversely affected by the impacts of climate change.

The high lands of Nepal and the low lands of Bangladesh have been bearing the huge brunt of the climate crisis without being a cause for it.

"Nepal's Himalayan ice is getting melted and the sea level of the Bay of Bengal is rising. It has resulted into environmental catastrophes like floods and draughts, with erratic climate. In order to address this problem, we need to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including mobilizing international support," President Bidya Devi said.

Nepal was the seventh country to recognize Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu also expanded the reach of Bangladesh to the international community during his short period of leadership of the country after independence, said the Nepalese President.

As the President of Nepal, it is her first visit to Bangladesh which she termed a beautiful country.

"On my private visit, I have already been here before. During this period, I have found a lot of progress taking place in Bangladesh in terms of economic activities, development works and the enhancement of the people's living standard," she said.

In the recent years, the Nepalese President said, Bangladesh has successfully lifted a large population out of poverty through rapid economic growth and this trend is ongoing.

"I feel happy to witness these positive changes taking place in our friendly country and the life of its people," she said.

For a long time, Nepal and Bangladesh have continued to enjoy close, friendly and cooperative relationship.

"Geographically, our two countries are only a short distance away from each other. This geographical proximity, similar culture, tradition, mutual support and goodwill have firmly knotted the bilateral ties," she said.

Nepal-Bangladesh relations have continued to grow ever since the establishment of the diplomatic relations on 08 April 1972.

The Nepalese President said exchange of high-level visits has contributed to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new height.

"President Hamid had visited Nepal in November 2019 and now I am here. Exchange of visits both at government and people's levels has significantly been increased," she said.

"I am very happy to know about the rapid development taking place in Bangladesh in accordance with Bangabandhu's vision of Sonar Bangla (Golden Bangladesh). As a close friend, Nepal would like to see continued economic progress and development of Bangladesh," said the Nepalese President.

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