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Paris hopeful of Dhaka's support to host World Expo

DHAKA, Jan 8, 18 (BSS) - Visiting French special envoy and former Director General of World Trade Organization (WTO) Pascal Lamy yesterday expressed his optimism that Bangladesh will support France to host the World Expo-2025 considering "extremely vibrant" relations between the two countries.

"In present situation, France and Bangladesh are well-aligned ... Our bilateral relations are really in good shape," Lamy, told journalists at the France-German Embassy here in the last afternoon.

He, however, said it is the decision of Bangladesh to be taken in this regard considering "technical, economic, diplomatic and political" relations between the two countries.

Lamy said the European Union will remain the largest market for Bangladesh which might come into consideration apart from cooperation in the areas of technology and others.

He said Bangladesh can also benefit from a five-year cooperation project on technology and environmental sustainability and mentioned there are issues that matter to Bangladesh and France equally.

The Dhaka-Paris relations are now really in good shape as the outcome of the recent bilateral meeting between French President Macron and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in France, he said.

Answering a question, the French envoy said the international community needs to put more "political pressure" on Myanmar to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis. "Still, a lot of political pressures need to be exerted."

In this context, he reiterated his country's support for repatriation of the Rohingya people.

Earlier, Lamy sought support of Bangladesh in favor of its candidacy to host World Expo 2025 when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office on Sunday morning.

Referring to French President Emmanuel Macron who termed atrocities on Myanmar's Rohingya minority as "genocide", Lamy said France extended its support for solution at the international level.

As France government wants to host the World Expo-2025, Pascal Lamy requested Bangladesh to extend its support to this end.

In response to Lamy's request, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh will consider it. Lamy explained France's vision behind candidacy for the World Expo 2025.

Four countries -- France (in Greater Paris), Japan (in Osaka), the Russian Federation (in Ekaterinburg), and Azerbaijan (in Baku) -- are candidates to host the World Expo 2025.

The bid was submitted on September 28 to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos.

The 170 member states of BIE will elect the host country at the 164th General Assembly in November 2018.

The theme chosen for this expo is 'Knowledge sharing and protection of the planet," which reflects the priorities of the international action to protect the planet, while 2025 will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement.

France thinks the World Expo is also an opportunity for French citizens and the country to redesign their openness to the world and French adherence to the universal values.

Lamy said he has so far visited 15 countries and he will be visiting countries that matter most to France.

"I am here to build support for Bangladesh. We hope we will win," he said adding that the host country must have some comparative advantages what they have.

Md Monibur Rahman, a Bangladeshi youth Ambassador for France, also spoke at the press conference and described his role.

"We're a group of young, passionate, change-makers with a common vision and motivation to leave our footprint on world," said Rahman, one of the 100 Ambassadors selected by France government who is representing Bangladesh.

He said, "By supporting the French candidacy, we are helping in the protection of our climate as ExpoFrance 2025 is a leader in sustainable development."