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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK

World: South Asia

Bangladesh cultural festival launched

Tony Blair and Sheikh Hasina at the launch in London's Brick Lane

The Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Britain have jointly launched a 19-day festival in London, celebrating Bangladeshi arts and culture in Europe.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the event would highlight the enormous contribution made by the Bangladeshi community to Britain. The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations and British investment in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina - making the first official visit to Britain by a Bangladeshi prime minister since the 1970s - has urged the British government to make immigration procedures more user-friendly for Bangladeshi citizens.

Celebrating Bangladeshi culture

Organisers of the Arts Worldwide Bangladesh Festival say it will be the largest ever celebration of Bangladeshi arts and culture in Europe.

It is being held at various locations around London and will feature all aspects of Bangladeshi culture, including dancing, poetry, painting, cinema and food.

[ image:  ]
The aim is to bring the sights and sounds of Bangladesh to the people of Britain.

On Wednesday, Sheikh Hasina appealed to the UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to reform Britain's immigration procedures. Among other things, she asked him to allow more Bangladeshi chefs into Britain to work in restaurants.

Later this week, Sheikh Hasina will address the Confederation of British Industry and meet the International Development Secretary Clare Short.

She is known to be eager to attract more British investment and aid to Bangladesh.

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