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By Just Faaland

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Mature socialist countries could be expected to resist outside influence; but in their early days, when the foundations of socialism were in the process of being built, intercourse with the non-socialist world was severely restricted. The influence of an alien ideology or economic system was more likely to be important in the formative years when there was no widely accepted and well-grounded view about the desired pattern of society. In counter argument, it would not be hard to reject the views of 20 Aid and Influence: The Case of Bangladesh those opposing involvement with non-socialist countries, if it could be assumed that Bangladesh was determined to follow its chosen ideology and if donor countries were willing to provide assistance within this framework in a way that could be accepted with confidence.

There had been no opportunity to have an exchange of views on vital political matters and there was no certain means of knowing whether Bangladesh's declared adherence to an independent neutral foreign policy had been fully accepted. It was a period of hesitancy in foreign policy made more difficult by a feeling of insecurity in international relations. The fact that the socialist countries would not be included in a consortium was therefore of political significance. Socialist countries, even those like Yugoslavia and Rumania who were members of the Bank, were reluctant to join consortia and coordinate their own efforts in this way.

The dialogue was continuous; requests were formulated and responses received, some favourable, others not; discussions and negotiations were often protracted. There were several stages, from preliminary to final, in which requests for assistance were made. When it came to giving a foreign assistance agreement its final form, the donors were often closely involved in determining what was needed and what should be the mechanics and procedures of project implementation; it was necessary for Bangladesh to meet general and detailed donor standards and criteria, elaborated and agreed in the course of the preliminary discussions.

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