Bangladesh Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has hoped that Argentina would support Bangladesh's initiative to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the South American regional economic organisation Mercosur during its current presidency. In response, Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship Santiago Andres Cafiero suggested that Bangladesh pursue a preferential trade agreement (PTA) instead of FTA. Momen also requested Santiago to consider lowering the existing 35 percent duty imposed by Argentina on readymade garments (RMG) products and withdrawing $0.16 per kg anti-dumping duty on jute bags and sacks from Bangladesh to have greater market access. A 34-member high-level Argentine delegation, led by the Argentine minister, is paying a two-day state-level visit to Dhaka. Read more: Bangladesh attractive destination for business, investment: Momen tells Argentine delegation The non-resident Argentine ambassador to Bangladesh, undersecretary of trade and chief of cabinet to the Argentine foreign minister, are also accompanying the minister. Momen received his Argentine counterpart this morning at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Later, Santiago led a delegation to the Brac Foundation. The purpose was to learn from the Brac development programmes and success stories focusing on women's empowerment and rural women's financial inclusion. Both sides agreed to collaborate to share knowledge on how to bring about financial inclusion in a responsible manner to pull millions of vulnerable women in rural and urban areas of Argentina out of poverty. Read More: Reopening embassy in Dhaka a stepping stone to build better ties with Bangladesh: Argentina Santiago had a meeting with Momen at state guest house Jamuna this evening. Momen expressed gratitude to the Argentine government for reopening its diplomatic mission in Dhaka. The foreign minister showed interest in wider cooperation between Bangladesh and Argentina in agriculture, agro-processing, cattle and poultry industries, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, the ICT sector, heavy and light machinery and equipment. Santiago and Momen emphasised the importance of enhancing close collaboration to increase bilateral trade and investment. Read More: Argentina’s foreign minister in Dhaka to reopen embassy, deepen ties.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu has appreciated the “tremendous progress” made by Rab in “respecting human rights” while performing its duties. “We had quite a good discussion about the Rab. If you have seen the statement this week by the Human Rights Watch, they recognised and we recognised tremendous progress in the area of reducing extra judicial killings by the Rab,” he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. “This is amazing work. It shows the Rab is able to carry out its important counterterrorism and law enforcement function while respecting human rights,” Lu added. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen also spoke on the occasion. The senior US official said they had “very honest and open” discussions with the Bangladesh foreign minister and foreign secretary. “We have expressed our commitment to democracy and human rights. We will speak when we see problems and when we can offer suggestions. We will stand up for freedom of speech, freedom of expression. And we look forward to working very closely with our partners here in Bangladesh,” Lu said. Regarding the labour rights issue, he said it is important for Bangladesh and for trade relationships. “I had the honour of sitting down this morning with (PM’s adviser) Salman F Raman to talk about the way forward, so that we can cooperate on improvement of labour rights in this country. I’m very confident we’re going to make progress this year,” said the US official. INDO-PACIFIC STRATEGY Asked whether the US wants Bangladesh to join the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Lu said they had a “wonderful discussion” on the Indo-Pacific Strategy. “It’s a strategy, it’s not a club. We don’t join.” Regarding restoration of GSP (generalised system of preferences) facilities for Bangladesh, the US official said they are still waiting for the Congress to authorise GSP for any country. “We are working very closely with the government of Bangladesh,” Lu said, adding that Bangladesh will be the first country on the list if the Congress authorises. “I am here to strengthen the friendship with Bangladesh when the world is struggling to establish peace and justice,” he said before taking questions. Talking to reporters, Foreign Minister Momen said, “I am very happy. We had very constructive discussions. The US is our old friend and our relationship turned deeper over the last 50 years. We want to make the relationship much deeper in the next 50 years.” Momen said the US side invited them to visit this month or in April. “This engagement is very effective.” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said they discussed all issues of mutual interest – trade, investment, labour rights, sanctions, human rights, democracy and development, as well as Bangladesh’s views on the Indo-Pacific. “Through our sincere efforts, we will be able to elevate our relations to a higher level,” said the foreign secretary. Read more: US committed to continued cooperation with Bangladesh to improve labor rights: Donald Lu LABOUR RIGHTS The United States is “committed” to continued cooperation with Bangladesh in its efforts to improve labour rights, Lu said. At a meeting with Bangladeshi labour rights leaders, Lu listened to their experiences and concerns. Earlier in the morning, he had a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman. The US Assistant Secretary had a meeting over dinner with Foreign Minister Momen at his residence on Saturday night. Key issues of bilateral relations were discussed during Lu’s over one-hour stay at the foreign minister’s official residence, a diplomatic source told UNB. Lu, who arrived in Dhaka on Saturday evening, directly went to the foreign minister’s residence accompanied by US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Peter Haas. The US senior official is visiting Bangladesh to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relationship, expand economic engagement, and go over the labour and human rights situation.
Showcasing 252 films from 71 countries, the 21st Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) will begin Saturday (January 14, 2023). One hundred and twenty-nine full-length feature films and one hundred and twenty-three short and independent films are scheduled to enthral the moviegoers at the festival. Bangladesh will be represented at the festival through 81 films, including 12 full-length feature films and 69 short and independent films. Read more: Bangladesh Film Artistes’ Association finally begins journey with full panel Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen will inaugurate the festival as the chief guest at the main auditorium of the Bangladesh National Museum at 4pm. Prime Minister's Private Industries and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman will join the ceremony as the special guest, which will be presided over by State Minister for Foreign Affairs and DIFF chief patron Shahriar Alam. "Rainbow Film Society has been organising the DIFF every year since 1992 with support from different organisations. Unfortunately, that support is dwindling," festival director Ahmed Muztaba Zamal said at a press conference in the capital Thursday. Read more: It's a 'Dream Run' to Florida film fest! "To continue this acclaimed festival in the future, we need proper financial assistance from the government and elite members of society and corporations, the driving force behind every other successful film festival across the world." About the unavailability of suitable venues for the festival, newly elected Jatiya Press Club (JPC) General Secretary Shyamal Dutta said the JPC is going to serve as one of the venues for the upcoming edition of the DIFF. Films will be screened at the Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib auditorium (main auditorium) and Poet Sufia Kamal auditorium of the Bangladesh National Museum, National Art Gallery auditorium, Nandan Theatre open ground and Jatiya Sangeet and Nrityakala auditorium of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), Star Cineplex (Bashundhara City) and Alliance Francaise de Dhaka (Dhanmondi) in the capital. Read More: Indian Movie RRR’s Success at Golden Globe 2023 They will be screened under nine categories – Asian cinema competition section, retrospective, wide angle, Bangladesh panorama, cinema of the world, children's films, women filmmakers, short and independent films and spiritual films. The 21st DIFF will also feature the Ninth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2023 at the Samson Lounge, Dhaka Club, from January 15 to 16 and West Meets East: Screenplay Lab from January 15 to 18 at Alliance Francaise de Dhaka. This year, the festival will also host a day-long master class for the first time on January 21 at Bangladesh National Museum. It will be led by filmmakers Jon Jost from the US and Anja Strelec from Belgium. Read More: 2022 Highest Grossing Movies Worldwide There will also be a special session where script pitching, film studies, and practical filmmaking experience will be discussed by Sadia Khalid Reeti and filmmaker Tasmiah Afrin Mou. Bidhan Rebeiro will conduct the master class sessions. The 21st Dhaka International Film Festival will draw to a close on January 22.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today (January 10, 2023) said Bangladesh is maintaining good relations with both global powers USA and China through its balanced foreign policy, though it is a “challenging” task. “That is a challenging thing. They (US, China) might have their own problems. That is their headache, not ours. We want to maintain good relations with both,” he said. Momen made the remarks when a reporter wanted to know how the Bangladesh government is maintaining relations with the United States and China. The foreign minister referred to the historic quote of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, “Friendship to all, malice towards none”, which has recently been incorporated in a UN General Assembly resolution. “We believe in this policy,” Momen said. Also read: China will remain engaged in Bangladesh’s next stage of development journey: Momen Momen received the newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during the latter’s brief stopover at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport early today while US Senior Director for South Asia, National Security Council, Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher, wrapped up her four-day visit to Bangladesh. On the other hand, a delegation of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), led by Vice Minister Chen Zhou, is currently visiting Bangladesh to have interactions with Bangladesh leadership. The CPC delegation is scheduled to leave Dhaka on January 11 while Donald Lu, who became Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on September 15, 2021, is likely to begin his Bangladesh visit on January 15. Asked whether Bangladesh-US discussed the election issue during US official Laubacher’s visit, Momen said the next national election will be held after one year, and over the last 14 years, elections were held in a free, fair manner. “Our country is a democratic country.” Also read: Bangladesh reassures Chinese FM of one-China policy, seeks better trade relations He said the overall election environment can be improved through joint efforts domestically with the participation of people and all parties. Momen said it would be unfortunate if anyone violence occurs during elections and it cannot be stopped by “recommendations from the outside. We have to do this.” The foreign minister said the government wants to ensure a free, fair and acceptable election and that is why there is an independent Election Commission. Momen said considering the remarkable development over the last 14 years under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, people will re-elect Awami League for their better future. Read More: New Chinese foreign minister makes brief stopover at Dhaka airport “We believe in people. People will vote for Awami League if there is a fair election. Awami League is a democratic party. We never came to power through the backdoor,” said the foreign minister, adding that, “Our intention is good. We have a good track record.”
Newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has conveyed to Bangladesh that his country will “remain engaged” in Bangladesh’s development journey to the next level, noting Bangladesh’s “remarkable” economic progress over the years. “Our discussion was very useful and fruitful. Good news is that China has expressed its willingness to remain engaged with Bangladesh in our development journey. They want to work with us as a partner,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said today (January 10, 2023). Talking to reporters after attending a discussion, marking the historic Homecoming Day of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Momen said he and his Chinese counterpart discussed the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, including disruptions in the supply chain and economic fallout. “… We need to work together to overcome the current situation (due to the Ukraine war),” Momen said. Read More: Bangladesh reassures Chinese FM of one-China policy, seeks better trade relations TRADE RELATIONS The foreign minister said he raised the huge trade gap issue with China as Bangladesh imports goods worth US$ 13 billion against exports worth less than US$ 800 million. He said though there was a decision of duty-free and quota-free facilities for 98 percent of Bangladeshi products, it has not been fully implemented yet due to the absence of a gazette notification. Businesses are yet to take advantage of the duty-free and quota-free facilities in the Chinese market, the minister said, seeking steps from the Chinese side. Read more: New Chinese foreign minister makes brief stopover at Dhaka airport ROHINGYA ISSUE Regarding the Rohingya issue, Momen said the Chinese side sees some problems in Myanmar that are delaying the repatriation of the Rohingyas. “But he (Chinese foreign minister) remains hopeful.” Momen said if the Rohingya issue remains unresolved, there is a possibility that they could become “radicalised”. “These people are stateless. Their future is uncertain. For that reason, they could succumb to extremism and terrorism,” he added. The Bangladeshi foreign Minister sought special measures from the Chinese side so that the problem could be resolved as soon as possible. “At least the process should start. He agreed,” Momen told reporters referring to his conversation with the Chinese foreign minister. Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char and not a single Rohingya has been repatriated since August, 2017. Read More: New Chinese envoy presents credentials to President Hamid In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. Bangladesh also conveyed to China that it maintains a balanced foreign policy with all countries while reassuring Dhaka’s support to Beijing. “We believe in the One-China principle. We maintain a balanced foreign policy. This is our principle. We will extend our support (to China) from time to time,” Momen told reporters at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport early Tuesday as conveyed to his Chinese counterpart who had a brief stopover there. Momen received his Chinese counterpart upon his arrival at around 1:58am, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told UNB. Read More: Bangladesh 'pearl of Bay of Bengal, important country in South Asia': New Chinese envoy The two Foreign Ministers had a brief meeting at the VIP Lounge of the airport and discussed issues of mutual interest. Momen described the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh in 2016 as a milestone but mentioned that many decisions in terms of investment are yet to be implemented. The foreign minister of Bangladesh also mentioned China’s involvement in a number of important development projects including the rail link of Padma Bridge. He also thanked the Chinese government for its support to Bangladesh during Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese foreign minister invited Momen to visit Beijing at a mutually convenient time. Read More: Outgoing Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming hopes Rohingya repatriation will start next year In reply, Momen also invited his Chinese counterpart to come again for a longer stay. Foreign Minister Momen saw off his Chinese counterpart at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 2:50 am on Tuesday. Earlier, Momen told UNB that it was not an official visit to Bangladesh, but the Chinese foreign minister would make a stopover here on his way to another destination. Qin Gang, who until recently was ambassador to the US, has started his term with a weeklong trip to five African countries. To “deepen the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership”, Qin Gang will visit Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin, Egypt, the African Union Headquarters and the League of Arab States Headquarters upon invitation, from January 9 to 16, 2023, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily media briefing on Monday. Read More: No good news yet from Chinese side on Rohingya repatriation: Momen
Bangladesh has conveyed to China that it maintains a balanced foreign policy and walks together with all the countries while reassuring Dhaka's support to Beijing. "We believe in one-China principle. We maintain a balanced foreign policy. This is our principle. We will extend our support (to China) time to time," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Tuesday (January 10, 2023) as conveyed to his Chinese counterpart. Newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang had a brief stopover at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport early Tuesday. Foreign Minister Momen received his Chinese counterpart upon his arrival at around 1:58am, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told UNB. Read More: No matter who, Bangladesh doesn’t want foreign interference in its internal affairs: Momen The two Foreign Ministers had brief meeting at the VIP Lounge of the airport and discussed issues of mutual interest.
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday (December 14, 2022) said his ministry did not have prior information regarding the US Ambassador's visit to a particular residence where many people gathered outside the gate. Momen said US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas met him on an emergency basis at his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I told him that it is our responsibility to ensure security for you and your people. I asked him (Haas) whether anybody attacked him or on his people. He replied, no,” the foreign minister told reporters, adding that they will provide the Ambassador additional security if he wants. Momen said the Ambassador did not inform his ministry beforehand about the visit and wanted to know from the Ambassador how people came to know that he was going there. “We don’t know anything about it," he added. Read more: US Ambassador hosts reception for DCAB The foreign minister also advised the US envoy to look into how the information regarding his visit was leaked, adding that his (Ambassador) people may also do that. Ambassador Haas visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of Mayer Dak, an organisation of the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance, at Shaheenbagh in the city on Wednesday morning. Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, who is reportedly a victim of enforced disappearance that took place in 2013. The Ambassador's security escort asked him to leave the place as soon as possible fearing blockade by people there. Read More: US keen to work with Bangladesh, other partners to ensure an open Indo-Pacific “Due to security reasons he left quickly. He is very unhappy with that incident. He is a bit worried,” Momen said. The US Ambassador and embassy staff ended the meeting due to "security concerns", said a spokesperson at the US Embassy in Dhaka. "We are raising this matter at the highest levels of the Bangladesh government," he said. “We cannot bar our journalists from performing their duties. They are very vocal and have the freedom and they run after events,” said the Foreign Minister while responding to a question. Read More: US to be bold in promoting its vision of a free, secure, and prosperous world: Haas The foreign minister said it is a country of free speech and people convey their messages freely and there is freedom of mobility. But, he said, people can be arrested as per the law if public and private property are damaged.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said resettlement of a few Rohingyas in the US is not a solution; rather the solution is repatriation to their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. “…this is not the solution. The key solution is that they will have to return to their homeland. It’s a process,” he told reporters in Cox’s Bazar after attending a programme there. Momen said the United States is taking a few Rohingyas as a follow up to his discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. There has been a list of 62 Rohingyas and 24 of them are being taken to the USA in the first batch, said the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh is requesting big countries to take at least 100,000 Rohingyas each, to share Bangladesh’s burden. “Some of them are going as part of family reunification. They have their relatives there. I think that’s how the list of 62 came. But it is up to them,” Momen said. The Biden administration announced on September 27 that the cap on refugee admissions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 would be 125,000—the same as the cap for FY 2022. Read more: Outgoing Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming hopes Rohingya repatriation will start next year The admission of up to 125,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest, according to the White House. The admissions numbers shall be allocated among refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with the following regional allocations – Africa -40,000, East Asia 15,000, Europe and Central Asia 15,000, Latin America/Caribbean 15,000, Near East/South Asia 35,000 and unallocated reserve 5,000. The 5,000 unallocated refugee numbers shall be allocated to regional ceilings, as needed. US Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Julieta Valls Noyes, on Tuesday met Foreign Minister Momen and discussed a “comprehensive approach” to the protracted Rohingya crisis with international support. Momen said the Bangladesh government wants a better life for the Rohingyas. Asked about relocation of some Rohingyas in the United States, Momen said it is “just a drop in the ocean”, as Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. He said the US did not mention any exact number but he hinted the number could be 62 only in the beginning. Read more: US diplomat for ‘comprehensive approach’ to deal with Rohingya crisis “The United States is proud to be able to support resettlement in our country of the very vulnerable Rohingya. This is a priority of President Biden. We are discussing with other governments and with other partners. We will be working together with the international community,” US Assistant Secretary Noyes said, thanking Momen for Bangladesh’s life-saving support for the Rohingyas.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen today (November 22, 2022) said diplomats stationed in Dhaka should not be given the scope to speak on Bangladesh’s internal affairs – noting that the blame goes to everyone, especially the media. “Blame goes to everyone. We have given them the scope. We should not give them such scope,” he told reporters at a Sylhet event, criticising the role of Bangladeshi media. Momen said that diplomats come for a particular period to improve their countries’ relations with Bangladesh; they do not come here to give negative messages. The foreign minister said that some diplomats told him they do not want to speak on Bangladesh’s internal issues but local media persistently pursues them for opinions. Read More: IORA Meetings to focus on undertaking larger projects “In other countries, the media does not ask foreigners questions on internal affairs,” he added. Referring to media, Momen said, “People who are not your family members do not know about your family affairs. But you are asking foreigners questions regarding your home affairs. It’s a matter of shame too.” On Monday, the foreign minister reiterated his call to diplomats stationed in Dhaka to follow diplomatic norms. Bangladesh is an independent and sovereign country and they should remember it, Momen said, adding that this culture of diplomats getting involved in the country’s internal affairs must change today or tomorrow. Read More: India can reap benefits of Bangladesh’s connectivity outlook: Momen Momen said the diplomats stationed here know the code of conduct and Bangladesh expects they would follow that. “We are no longer a colony, they (some diplomats) should remember that,” he added. Responding to a question on the two death-row convicts who were whisked away from the premises of a Dhaka court, Momen said it is unfortunate but it is an “accident”, and such “accidents happen in other countries too.” Read More: Phone Conversation: Momen, Lavrov want to take Dhaka-Moscow relations to greater heights
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Sunday (November 20, 2022) said the increased activities of Russia due to the situation in Ukraine might be the reason behind the revised decision taken by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, regarding his planned visit to Bangladesh. "I can understand it. They are very busy. Their activities due to the war have increased to a large extent. Maybe for that reason he is unable to come," Momen told reporters after attending a programme in a Dhaka hotel. The foreign minister said the Russian side in a diplomatic communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed that the Russian foreign minister is unable to come. "He (Lavrov) wants to speak with me over the phone. And I agreed," Momen said, adding that the telephone conversation will be done at a mutually convenient time. Read more: Russian Ambassador instead of FM to represent the country in IORA meeting Earlier today, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam told UNB that the two foreign ministers are likely to have a telephone conversation tomorrow or the day after. Responding to a question, Momen said Bangladesh's position on Russia-Ukraine war is "very exposed" (very clear) and Bangladesh has been maintaining an independent and balanced decision. "It is a consistent approach. We have maintained a balanced and consistent foreign policy," he said. Russian Ambassador in Dhaka Alexander Mantytskiy instead of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent his country at the IORA meeting, scheduled for November 24. Read more: Russia denies FM Lavrov was hospitalised, calling it “highest level of fakes” The Russian Foreign Minister was scheduled to visit Bangladesh on November 23, mainly to attend the 22nd IORA Council of Ministers meeting, to be held in Dhaka on November 24. Russia is a dialogue partner of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) while Bangladesh is the current chair of IORA. Momen met his Russian counterpart last month in Astana, Kazakhstan on the sidelines of the CICA Summit. Bangladesh to Host IORA Council Meeting The IORA Council of Ministers meeting, to be hosted by Bangladesh, will be preceded by the 24th meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials, to be held on November 22-23. Read more: Russian FM Lavrov’s Visit: Dhaka to focus on energy cooperation, Rohingya issue The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region through its 23 member states and 10 dialogue partners. IORA member states are Australia, Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Republic of Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The 23 member states of IORA and 10 dialogue partners are expected to join the ministerial and senior official meetings. Bangladesh assumed the position of the IORA Chair at the 21st IORA COM meeting in Dhaka held on November 17, 2021 and adopted the theme of “Harnessing the opportunities of the Indian Ocean sustainably for inclusive development.” Read More: Russia-Ukraine grain deal extended in win for food prices