DHAKA – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Saturday that Bangladesh will abandon its bid for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council for the 2016-2017 term and support Japan’s candidacy.
Hasina announced the change after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who arrived in the capital, Dhaka, earlier in the day at the start of a three-day trip to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Japan and Bangladesh had both vied for a seat for the Asia-Pacific region in an election to be held in October 2015. But Hasina hinted during her visit to Tokyo in May that Bangladesh would drop its bid in view of Japan’s attempt.
The two leaders also agreed to help Japanese companies operate businesses in Bangladesh through enhancing special economic zones and improving the investment environment.
Abe confirmed Japan’s support for improving infrastructure in an area around the Bay of Bengal where construction of an industrial district is planned. In May, Abe announced that Tokyo will provide up to ¥600 billion in economic aid over four to five years from 2014.
The leaders also agreed the two countries will strengthen their relationship in the diplomatic and security fields and hold a vice foreign ministerial meeting early next year.
Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Bangladesh since Yoshiro Mori in 2000. On Sunday, Abe was to travel to Sri Lanka to meet President Mahinda Rajapasa.
During his meeting with Hasina, Abe explained the Cabinet’s decision in July to approve a major policy shift allowing Japan to defend allies under armed attack by reinterpreting the pacifist Constitution.
Hasina welcomed Japan’s efforts to maintain peace and stability in its region, according to Japanese government officials.
In the face of China’s increasing assertiveness, the two leaders also reaffirmed the importance of freedom of maritime navigation and aviation as well as peacefully resolving conflicts in accordance with international law.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will bring the number of countries Abe has visited since taking office in December 2012 to 49 — the most for a prime minister in the history of Japanese politics. Junichiro Koizumi visited 48 countries during his premiership between 2001 and 2006.