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DHAKA, January 14 (Itar-Tass) - "Russia has always been a true friend to Bangladesh," emphaiszed Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the Republic. "This manifested itself in a particularly significant way during the war for independence in 1971 when the then Soviet Union came to our people's aid," she told Itar-Tass on Sunday in an exclusive interview ahead of her official visit to Russia. This will be the first official visit to Russia by a leader of Bangladesh in four decades.
Sheikh Hasina said the fact that she can visit Moscow precisely in the year which will see the 40th anniversary of "our cooperation in that hard war period adds confidence to me and undoubtedly serves the attainment of a new level in our relations".
"Keeping in mind my father Mujibur Rahman's friendship with the Soviet leadership, and every time remembering that war, we also recall the assistance which Russia rendered," the Prime Minister of Bangldesh stressed. "I take a very positive view of the (upcoming) visit and expect that it will be highly useful". She expressed hope for "wider mutual cooperation" between the two countries in various fields, which, she said, "will undoubtedly strengthen our friendship still further in future".
"We must not forget that we have big friends abroad," Hasina went on to say, "and when we speak of Russia, we must also bear in mind that the Soviet Union helped us greatly in the war for independence and continued to give assistance even after the war when the need arose to clear mines at the port of Chittagong".
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh recalled that three Soviet seamen had died during the accomplishment of that mission. "We remember that up to now," she said, "and we consider it our duty to keep all those events in our memory".
Hasina lamented that "human memory is very short and people quite often forget what role the powers friendly to us played both in the war and in peacetime and that the Soviet Union defended us at the United Nations Organization". "We consider it our duty to maintain friendly relations with those who did not forget about us in time of need," the Prime Minister of Bangladesh stated.
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The Bangladeshi Prime Minister's interview will be published in full in Rossiiskaya Gazeta and shown in a regular broadcast of "The Formula of Power" programme on the Russia-24 television channel.