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Russia's foreign minister Lavrov to visit Bangladesh ahead of G20 meeting

Russian and Turkish Foreign Ministers meet in Moscow

By Ruma Paul and Filipp Lebedev

DHAKA/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be on a two-day visit to Dhaka ahead of the G20 meeting in New Delhi, government officials said, a move seen as part of Moscow's efforts to strengthen bilateral ties with the South Asian country.

Lavrov will hold a meeting with Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Abdul Momen on Sept. 7 and call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the next day before leaving for the G20 conference in New Delhi with a delegation, government officials said.

"All bilateral issues including (payments for) the nuclear power plant, trade, and energy will be discussed during the visit,” said a senior Bangladesh foreign ministry official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to talk to media.

During the talks, the prospects for bilateral co-operation between the countries will be discussed, and "an exchange of views on the most pressing regional and international issues is planned," Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters during her weekly press briefing on Tuesday.

Before visiting Bangladesh, Lavrov will attend the 18th East Asia summit in Jakarta.

Bangladesh is constructing the first of two nuclear power plants in collaboration with Russia's state-owned atomic company Rosatom in a $12.65 billion project, 90% of which is financed through a Russian loan repayable within 28 years, with a 10-year grace period.

In April, Bangladesh and Russia had agreed to use yuan to settle payments for the nuclear plant Moscow is building in the country, following western sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

But so far no payment has been made through yuan, officials said.

"A technical committee is working on that," a finance ministry official said without giving further details.

"If we get instruction from the government, we’ll go ahead,” Bangladesh Bank spokesperson Mezbaul Haque said about payment in yuan, noting that as the yuan was an official currency there should be no problem making payments in that currency.

Russia had earlier asked Bangladesh to open a direct payment channel between their central banks to facilitate fund transfers hit by sanctions against Moscow.

(Writing by Manoj Kumar in New Delhi; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)