Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen
Foreign Secretary hosts farewell lunch for outgoing Swiss envoy
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen hosted a farewell luncheon in honour of outgoing Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard on Tuesday at State guesthouse Padma. Prior to the luncheon, the outgoing Swiss ambassador paid a farewell call on the foreign secretary. Both sides also exchanged views on the issues of Rohingya crisis, Ukraine war, etc. and hoped that the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Switzerland will continue to get stronger in the coming days. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen congratulated Nathalie Chuard on her successful tenure in Bangladesh and appreciated her efforts and contributions in strengthening Bangladesh-Switzerland bilateral relations. Read more: Masud Bin Momen bids farewell to Doraiswami Referring to the visit of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Switzerland in 1972 and his vision to make Bangladesh as the “Switzerland of the East”, foreign secretary thanked the Swiss government for playing an integral role as a very important development partner in the spectacular socio-economic development journey of Bangladesh. The outgoing ambassador of Switzerland expressed satisfaction at the Swiss development cooperation to Bangladesh over the last five decades and the growing bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries.
Bangladesh wants discussion to avert border tension with Myanmar: Foreign Secretary
Bangladesh wants to avert tension along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border through "dialogue and discussions", using the existing mechanism between the two border forces amid Myanmar's internal conflicts. Talking to a small group of journalists at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said they will have discussions through existing mechanism between Border Guard Bangladesh and its Myanmar counterpart to resolve any issue quickly if there is any provocation. "Basically, it's an action against their insurgents inside Myanmar. Maybe unintentionally a number of incidents took place. They acknowledged the matter," he said on Sunday evening. Read: Warned Myanmar against firing shots towards Bangladesh, says Home Minister The Foreign Secretary said the BGB remains vigilant though firing happened almost 10 kilometers away from the Bangladesh border. "But sounds are being heard here, on the Bangladesh side. For this reason, locals might become restless. Our surveillance is there. We are observing the situation," said the Foreign Secretary. He said efforts are there so that no tension prevails along the border. "We remain highly alert. BGB will not allow anyone inside Bangladesh." Earlier, Bangladesh reiterated deep concerns over mortar shells landing inside Bangladesh territory, indiscriminate aerial firing from Myanmar in the bordering areas, and air space violations. On September 3, 2022 two mortar shells fell inside Bangladesh between BP 40 and 41. The Myanmar Ambassador in Bangladesh Aung Kyaw Moe was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet the Director General of Myanmar Wing. Read: Myanmar envoy summoned: Dhaka shares “deep concerns” with Naypyidaw over border violation During the meeting, the Ambassador was also told that such activities are of grave threat to the safety and security of the peace-loving people, violation of border agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar and contrary to the good neighborly relationship. The Ambassador was also urged to ensure that no trespassing of the internally displaced Myanmar Residents takes place from Rakhine. It was also stressed that a safe, secure and conducive environment in the place of their origin in Rakhine is essential for sustainable and voluntary repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas from Bangladesh. The Myanmar Ambassador was also asked to come to the Ministry on 21 August and 28 August 2022 and protest notes were handed over to him conveying Bangladesh’s grave concerns. The Bangladesh Embassy in Yangon also raised the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar with much importance.
Dhaka to lodge protest against Myanmar shelling mortars into Bangladesh: FS
Bangladesh will lodge its strong protest with Myanmar so that nothing such happens inside Bangladesh as the country witnessed two mortal shells from Myanmar inside Bangladesh territory on Sunday afternoon. “We usually protest amid such incidents. Few days ago we also received similar reports. We will again strongly protest it with them (Myanmar),” said Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also read: Myanmar conditions do not allow for safe, voluntary return of Rohingya: US He said it will first be investigated whether the fall of unexploded mortar shells on the Bangladesh border was an accident or intentional. Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) stepped up its vigilance along Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Bandarban area after two Myanmar mortal shells landed in an area near Tambru under Naikkhangchhari in Bandarban on Sunday afternoon. Locals got panicked seeing the mortar shells which remained unexploded. Also read: Myanmar’s military regime encourages yaba smuggling to Bangladesh
Info Exchange: Bangladesh, Switzerland to discuss ways to develop mechanism
Bangladesh and Switzerland are in touch to develop a mechanism for exchange of information to avoid any “misunderstanding” and “confusion” between the two sides. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Tuesday said they are in touch with the Swiss Embassy in Dhaka and Switzerland's administrative capital Bern as there is a proposal to that end from the Swiss side. The decision to develop such a mechanism came amid confusions over deposits of Bangladeshi money in the Swiss banks and whether Bangladesh has sought information from the Swiss authorities or not. The Foreign Secretary said the government wants to make sure that there is no Illicit transfer of funds. Responding to a question, he said the mechanism is primarily for the exchange of information. Masud said they will sit with the relevant stakeholders to end any misunderstanding because neither side might have full information on the deposits of illegal money in Swiss banks. Earlier, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh sought information on the deposits of Bangladeshi money in the Swiss banks but the Swiss side did not respond to the query. Momen said this after his conversation on the issue with Bangladesh Bank governor Abdur Rouf Talukder and Finance Secretary Fatima Yasmin recently. Read: Switzerland a serious global player, reliable partner of Bangladesh: Ambassador Chuard The foreign minister said he advised the governor and the finance ministry to come up with the statements as confusion arose following some media reports quoting Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard. Momen said it is not true that Bangladesh did not seek information from Switzerland. The Swiss envoy at the DCAB Talk last week said any estimate on deposits of Bangladeshi money in the Swiss banks is "purely speculative" and no conclusion can be drawn on the basis of reports. "Switzerland is not a safe haven for corrupt money," she said adding "When it comes to the Bangladeshi money deposited in the Swiss banks - the deposits meant by individuals ...represent only one aspect of various sources of public and private funds." Bangladeshi media outlets reported that funds parked by Bangladeshi nationals and entities in all the Swiss banks swelled by 54 per cent to around CHF (Swiss Franc) 871 million (Tk 83.18 billion) in the last calendar year. The amount was around CHF 563 million in 2020. Responding to a question on information exchange on the issue, she said Switzerland is really committed to implementing international standards. In accordance with these international standards they can have some specific regulations and agreements also with the country to exchange this type of information, she said. "So that is something should be developed," said the ambassador, adding that they have been providing to the government all the information regarding how to reach an agreement on these matters but no request has been submitted regarding any particular funding.
No discussion on new loan during Chinese FM's visit: FS
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen has said taking a new loan from China will not be a part of their agenda during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's upcoming Bangladesh visit. "This time, the issue of taking loan afresh isn't there at least," he said on Wednesday when a reporter wanted to know whether Bangladesh is going to take a loan from China again. Asked what message this visit carries amid the crisis in various parts of the world, the foreign secretary said it will be known once the Chinese foreign minister comes. "We are working on the visit. Things are yet to be finalised." He reiterated that the visit is part of the Chinese side's routine visit to the region and also it is an opportunity to review the existing engagements between the two countries. "It can't be said (there's) urgency (from the Chinese side). Since he will be visiting this region, he expressed the desire to come here if we can give him time. We are looking into the timings," he said earlier when a reporter wanted to know why there was so much urgency from the Chinese side. Read: 12th bi-annual CSO meeting: Foreign secretary highlights implementation of IORDA-DDI State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Tuesday said time, arrival and departure have not been confirmed yet. The state minister said he does not want to shed any doubt but there is nothing to say in detail about the visit yet. "You will get to know," said, adding that things will be cleared within the next 48 hours. Shahriar also suggested not bringing any third country into a bilateral context and discussion. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen is expected to return home on August 6 evening after attending the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting during August 5-6 in Cambodia. In January 2017, Wang Yi had an hour-long stopover in Dhaka. "This time, he will be coming for a longer period," said the foreign secretary. The Chinese foreign minister is likely to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday morning apart from a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Momen to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues. Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming met Momen recently at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and discussed various issues of mutual interest, including the proposed visit of the Chinese foreign minister.
Bangladesh, Kenya sign 2 MoUs
Bangladesh and Kenya on Sunday signed two memoranda of understanding to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries. The two MoUs were signed on cooperation between Foreign Service Academies and Political Consultations between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries.
Argentina keen to exporting soybean, fertilizer to Bangladesh
Argentina has informed Bangladesh that the South American country is open to exporting soybean, beef and fertilizer to Bangladesh. Undersecretary of State for Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Claudio Javier Rozencwaig, conveyed this during his meeting with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at his office on Tuesday. Both sides acknowledged that the current world-wide crisis in the supply of fertilizer and energy might hamper agricultural supplies further. Claudio led a four-member delegation to Bangladesh. The delegation included Hugo Gobbi, Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Bangladesh resident in New Delhi, India. During the meeting with Shahriar, the Argentine Undersecretary handed over a message of felicitations from the Argentine Foreign Minister on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Argentina. The State Minister recalled the movement in Argentina led by famous Argentine poet Victoria Ocampo during the Liberation War in 1971. He mentioned that poet Ocampo played an important role in raising public opinion to denounce war and support the right cause of Bangalees. During the meeting both sides agreed on the importance of further strengthening business and commercial ties between the two nations. The State Minister emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries in the field of agriculture. Read: Bangladesh, Argentina to strengthen economic ties; MoU on FOC signed
Bangladesh on right track to holding 'free, fair, participatory' polls: FS
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen has said Bangladesh is on the right track to holding a "free, fair and participatory" national election, noting that there is no issue of interference by foreign countries. "A new election commission has been formed and it is talking to all parties. So, it is preparing for a free fair and participatory election. There is no issue of interference by the foreign countries," he said. As a nation, he said, Bangladesh is heading on the right path and if anyone has any doubt about it is up to them. The foreign secretary said they lodge protests when they see any interference in domestic affairs beyond the Vienna Convention and other diplomatic norms. He, however, said the government finds no problem if there is a "healthy and constructive" dialogue that benefits all. The foreign secretary, while talking to Jamuna Television, said these countries had faced some problems or are still facing some problems, and they also have come to this point by overcoming each stage. "So, we can learn from them, too." Sunday, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal reiterated the commission's commitment to hold an "inclusive and acceptable" national election to fulfil the expectation of all. Heads of missions representing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries had a "constructive meeting” with the CEC and discussed the preparations for the next parliamentary polls. "They (foreign envoys) will be happy, too, if there is an inclusive, acceptable, free and fair election," he told reporters after the meeting. Kazi Habibul said they will do whatever they need to do to ensure a free and fair election. Also Read: Foreign diplomats better not comment on Bangladesh's election, says foreign secretary The CEC said the envoys know very well that some political parties are still telling them that they will not take part in the election. He, however, hoped that they would be able to reach a consensus by removing the distance. British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson who attended the meeting said fair and transparent elections are vital for democracy. "The UK and like-minded partners will continue to encourage a free and participatory process," Dickson tweeted after the meeting. The OECD is a group of countries including the US, Canada, Turkey, Germany and France which aims to assist economic development, raise living standards and promote growth in world trade. European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley also attended the meeting. "Wide-ranging exchange today between heads of mission from the OECD countries and the Bangladesh Election Commission on preparations for the December 2023 parliamentary polls," he tweeted. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and Swiss Ambassador to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard were present. "There was a constructive and open exchange between the Bangladesh Election Commission and the OECD countries' heads of mission. We welcome the commitment made by the commission to hold free, fair and credible national elections," Ambassador Nathalie tweeted. CEC Kazi Habibul said such a meeting is a tradition before the election and they wanted to know about the rules and regulations of the upcoming parliamentary elections and the preparations. "We have informed them of our activities."
FS seeks SG’s role in transforming SAARC a meaningful regional org
Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen has urged South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) secretary general Esala Weerakoon to play an objective role in transforming SAARC into a meaningful regional organization. The foreign secretary, during a meeting at state guesthouse Padma on Tuesday, advised the secretary general to explore all possible ways and means to find solutions to the existing difficulties in an innovative way through continuous consultation of member states. Also read:Bangladesh’s role sought to save SAARC from existing difficulties Masud Momen appreciated the secretary general's active role in coordinating, facilitating, managing SAARC matters especially during the difficult time of COVID 19 pandemic. The secretary general apprised the foreign secretary about various aspects of current status of SAARC cooperation and challenges the organization has been facing and sought Bangladesh's support in activating various stalled activities and programmes of SAARC to resolve the stalemate. The foreign secretary and the secretary general exchanged views on how best SAARC process could be revitalized and put to its regular path to exploit the full potentials and benefits of the institutional mechanism and the synergy the organization created over the last thirty seven years of its existence. Also read:Kuwait can recruit more medical professionals from Bangladesh: Shahriar Alam They discussed different aspects of current activities of SAARC. The foreign secretary assured the secretary general of Bangladesh's commitment to SAARC and to extend every possible support to materialize the goals of SAARC to achieve a sustainable and integrated development in the region through cooperation under the SAARC system. After the meeting the Foreign Secretary hosted a luncheon in honor of the SAARC secretary general at the state guesthouse Padma.
US HR report appears to encourage creating a “society of lawlessness”: Dhaka
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Sunday said the government will ask explanation from the US side on the recently published human rights report noting that there are fundamental flaws in the report. While briefing reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said the government will also remain engaged with the US government as there are issues of discussion in a number of areas. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen was also present at the briefing. Also read:Dhaka trashes US HR report as “lie, wrong and misinformation” Bangladesh, a country of 170 million, follows rule of law, human rights and good governance and therefore, its economic achievements are significant, said the state minister. The report appears to encourage creating a "society of lawlessness to destabilize" the society and the government, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a separate press statement Despite all challenges, the government, for the sake of its own commitment made to the people, will continue its endeavours to improve the wellbeing and ensure the rights and dignity of its people, MoFA said. The report titled ''Bangladesh 2021 Human Rights Report'', was released on 13 April 2022 by the Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labour of the US Department of State. The government took note of all the observations therein collected mainly from the NGO/INGO sources of reporting. Information/data has also been collected from newspapers that surely suggest that the media is able to exercise their way of reporting things, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the statement after the briefing. While a number of unsubstantiated figures vis-a-vis human rights situation posed the purpose of the source questionable, there are also a few factual errors in the report. For example, MoFA said though "We do not endorse their information, the Ain of Salish Kendra (ASK) mentioned 275 extrajudicial killings in January-May 2018 period, while the US report wrongly cited ASK in mentioning that there were 606 extrajudicial killings in May-June 2018." When making critical observations and comments about the human rights situation in Bangladesh, the sources often chose to remain forgetful, juxtaposed to their 'statistics' of human rights issues, that Bangladesh is a country of more than 170 million people, and that it is making enormous people-centric development with an ultimate aim of progressively ensuring all human rights of its people in quality terms, the statement reads. The US report was critical about the status of prohibition of forced labour, but didn't highlight how Bangladesh is progressively realizing the labour rights, Shahriar Alam said. The report came from a side that ratified only 2 out of 8 fundamental conventions of ILO, whereas Bangladesh ratified all the 8 conventions, he said. The Government of Bangladesh is of the view that the tendency to impose values of a select few of other countries, like LGBT rights, same sex marriage etc., in the name of human rights violations are "regrettable and uncalled for", MoFA said. The report tried to capture broad range of issues, even including 2018 election, which compromised with substance and objectivity, it said. A few instances of the partial pictures the report captured in highlighting protection gap in the legal system include, arbitrary arrest, for example. "No act of arrest by the law enforcement agencies goes unaccountable bypassing the magistrate of the court. In each case, the magistrate decides whether an arrest is lawful or not," MoFA said. Therefore, MoFA said, the law enforcers don't enjoy the immunity of commissioning 'Arbitrary Arrest'. Also read:Bangladesh to get US support in improving, widening coastal embankments Again, the government said, throughout the report the existing system of accountability of the law enforcement agencies is heavily underplayed. "The legal system does not allow killing by arbitrary use of firearms. The magistrate requires members of the law enforcement agencies to account for every single use of firearms, without lawful explanation of which faces legal action." The death sentences to the 16 RAB officials in the Narayanganj seven-murder case, or the recent death sentences to two police officials in the Major Sinha murder case in Cox’s Bazar, are examples of accountability and non-impunity to law enforcers, MoFA said. While referring to cases of enforced disappearance, the report did not mention whether the families of the disappeared persons filed cases with the court to report 'enforced' disappearance at the time of the occurrence, according to MoFA. "In the absence of such case, or the victim family's voluntariness of filing a case reporting disappearance, it is rather unlawful to conclude that law enforcement agencies abducted." In fact, Bangladesh can also quote from many authentic sources on similar abuses and violations existing everywhere, MoFA said. The report also surprisingly mentioned a few Rohingya cases without adequate acknowledgement that the government continues to remain supportive of an environment respectful of the basic rights and well-being of Rohingyas, despite not being a Party to the 1951 Convention, it said. Also the report mentions about deaths of Rohingyas in the high sea, the tragic incidents which do not have any relevance with Bangladesh’s efforts to ensure wellbeing, according to MoFA. The Government of Bangladesh does not deny the fact there are indeed a lot of areas of development to ensure better protection and promotion of human rights, and the government is continuing to make steady strides towards that end, reads the MoFA press statement. The government underscores that there are indeed capacity issues to adequately observe the standards of human rights, it said, adding that "A gesture of cooperation with support for strengthening the capacity across the relevant systems would be helpful to address the gaps." The government remains intensely engaged with the UN human rights mechanism, and receptive of constructive recommendations from all international development partners, including the USA, said MoFA.