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India may transport Russian oil to Bangladesh

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NEW DELHI : India is exploring the possibility of emerging as a transit country to transport Russian oil and gas to Bangladesh after Turkey pitched in to emerge as a transit country for such supplies to India’s neighbour.

Turkey has expressed interest to emerge as a transit state for Russian energy supplies to Bangladesh but ET has learnt that India is exploring ideas to assist in transit given its geographical location and strong political ties with Bangladesh.

Turkey would be “more than happy” to help Bangladesh by becoming a transit country for Russian energy supplies, which Bangladesh needs to tackle fuel shortages, Turkish ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan said on Wednesday in Dhaka. It comes as Turkey is eyeing to increase its influence in Bangladesh and India has been monitoring the trajectory of Turkey-Bangladesh ties over the past few years.

Energy cooperation between Bangladesh and Russia will be top priority when Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visits Dhaka next week for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) council of ministers meeting. Bangladesh has been eyeing discounted Russian oil to meet its growing energy and power sector demands. In South Asia, besides India, Sri Lanka has purchased fossil fuel from Russia amid its economic crisis.

Besides importing discounted Russian oil, the Bangladesh government will also try to get a duty cut on exports to the Russian market, food grains supply and a quick implementation of the under-construction Rooppur nuclear power plant, government officials from Dhaka told ET. Russia is constructing this plant with India providing support for the venture.

Besides attending the meeting of the IORA, Lavrov will hold discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka. There are reports that Bangladesh will also seek Russia’s assistance in the Rohingya issue given the fact that the leader of the Myanmar junta has close ties with Russia.

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