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Direct Flights Between Bangladesh, China to Start

An agreement clearing the way for the first direct flights between China and Bangladesh was signed as Premier Wen Jiabao visited Dhaka on the second leg of his South Asian tour.  

The new flights will link the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka with the south city of Kunming and the capital Beijing.


"The direct air link between Dhaka and Beijing will start on May 18," Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Hemayet Uddin said on Thursday.


Wen, on his maiden tour of the region as premier, was given a 19-gun salute as he arrived at Dhaka's Zia International Airport where he was greeted by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and most of her cabinet.


China is Bangladesh's second biggest source of imported goods after neighboring India and officials say the number of people seeking to travel between the two countries is growing.


National carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which flies to 26 destinations, chose Kunming as it is the nearest Chinese city to Bangladesh and a long-haul destination would not be a financially viable at this point in time.


Bangladeshi and Chinese officials also signed a raft of other agreements covering development, trade and economic cooperation.


A large trade imbalance exists between the two countries and China would send a business delegation to Bangladesh later this year and arrange trade fairs to narrow the gap by increasing imports from Bangladesh, the foreign secretary added.


Chinese businesses have invested an estimated US$137 million in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, and provided more than 20,000 much-needed jobs.


Wen began his South Asian tour in Pakistan Tuesday. He will spend one day in Bangladesh and another day in Sri Lanka before heading to India on April 9 for four days. 


(Chinadaily.com.cn via agencies, April 8, 2005)

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