PM meets Pope today on state visit Rohingya, migration, climate change to feature talks

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News desk: Issues related to Rohingyas, migration and climate change are likely to dominate the bilateral talks when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina meets Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the Catholics across the globe, today at the Vatican state, a sovereign country within Italy. Besides, sources concerned have told The Independent that both the leaders will talk about the improvement of inter-faiths relations to promote peace and stability of the world.

The Prime Minister left Dhaka for Italy yesterday on a four-day trip yesterday mainly to attend the 41st session of the annual governing council meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and to pay a state visit to Vatican.

There is, however, no bilateral engagement so far scheduled between Hasina and the Italian government, said the sources. Apart from the meeting with the Pope, Secretary State of Vatican City Cardinal Pietro Paroline will also have a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“The Prime Minister’s trip to Vatican on Monday will be a full-fledged state visit involving all the relevant ceremonies and formalities,” a senior foreign ministry official said.  During the bilateral meeting with Francis, the sources said that Hasina will discuss all the issues of mutual interest especially the Rohingya crisis that has seen the arrivals of more than 6.88 lakh (680,000) Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar since August, 2017.

The Pope, who recently visited Bangladesh, has strongly spoken against the atrocities orchestrated against the Rohingyas by the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and people belonging to other ethnic groups in Rakhine. The Prime Minister is expected to update the Pope on the arrangement to repatriate Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine and to seek the assistance of his influence over the globe to persuade the Myanmar government to take back its displaced people, said the officials.

Apart from the Rohingya issue, they said that Hasina is also likely to call for the help of the catholic leader in relations to migration and climate change, the issues the Pope is very passionate about.

Tomorrow, Prime Minister Hasina will deliver a speech at the IFAD event that will discuss how investing in sustainable rural livelihoods is central to peace-building, state-building and social stability around the world.  The prime minister will depart Italy on Wednesday and arrive home on the following day.

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