Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has expressed deep shock over the loss of many lives and resources in a magnitude 6.2 earthquake in Indonesia.
A strong earthquake shook the country’s Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 34 people.
More than 600 people were injured during the strong quake, which sent people fleeing their homes in the darkness.
Also, there were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings. Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters.
In a message to his Indonesian counterpart Retno LP Marsudi, Dr Momen expressed his heartfelt sympathies to the Indonesian government, people of the country, and the members of the bereaved families.
The foreign minister hoped that the resilient and enterprising people of Indonesia would overcome the disaster and return to normal life.
The Indonesian disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 34 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 26 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.
The agency said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas.
Also, Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysical agency warned of the dangers of aftershocks and the potential for a tsunami.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused the soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.
A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.
Dr Momen said, “Officials and rescue workers of Bangladesh and Indonesia can take part in joint earthquake drills and simulation exercises as both countries are disaster-prone.”
He also reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to work with the international community on disaster risk reduction and global climate change adaptation and mitigation issues.
King Philippe of Belgium has said that he will consider a possible visit to Bangladesh to see the country’s impressive socio-economic development.
The King said this when newly-appointed Ambassador of Bangladesh to Belgium Mahbub Hassan Saleh presented his Letters of Credence to him at the Royal Palace in Brussels recently.
The Ambassador said it would be an honour for Bangladesh if the King and the Queen can pay a visit this year, when Bangladesh is celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 50th anniversary of independence.
He also said that such a visit of the highest level would contribute significantly to further strengthening the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Belgium.
Also read: Belgium to send trade mission to Bangladesh
King Philippe took a great deal of interest in hearing about Bangladesh’s poverty alleviation, disaster management, infrastructure development and other success stories, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.
King Philippe recalled his visit to Bangladesh in his personal capacity in the early 1990s.
Ambassador Saleh conveyed to the King the greetings and best wishes of the President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
He said the government and people of Bangladesh would warmly welcome the royal couple if they could kindly make it convenient to visit the country.
The King also showed interest in the bilateral trade and investment scenario between Bangladesh and Belgium.
Ambassador Saleh spoke about the growing trade relations between the two countries and highlighted the excellent investment opportunities in Bangladesh and said that Belgian investors may explore the same in a number of potential areas including pharmaceuticals, ICT, and engineering.
Ambassador Saleh briefed the King in detail about the Rohingya crisis and thanked him for Belgium’s supportive role in this regard in the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member during 2019-2020.
The Ambassador said that sustained and effective pressure on Myanmar from the international community including Belgium needs to continue for an early repatriation of the 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas to the Rakhine state in Myanmar.
Also read: How Europe's royals mix work and duties
The Ambassador was taken to the Royal Palace in a ceremonial motorcade.
He was accompanied by Deputy Chief of Mission Faiyaz Murshid Kazi, and First Secretary Fakhruddin Ahamed.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said his ministry is putting emphasis on public diplomacy as part of its effort to uphold Bangladesh as a land of opportunity to the outside world.
He was addressing a function at the Foreign Service Academy in the city.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh and Bangabandhu are inseparable and the government wants to highlight it globally.
He said the government wants the world to know more about Bangabandhu's sacrifice for the people of his country and his dedication.
Dr Momen mentioned that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently introduced Public Diplomacy wing giving importance to public diplomacy.
Also read: MoFA introduces Public Diplomacy wing
He hoped people from individual position will play a role in boosting Bangladesh's image abroad.
Dr Momen said the government wants to make the best use of potential that the huge young force holds in the country.
He urged all to work for the people and the country following the individuals who played significant contributions in various fields.
The Foreign Minister handed over "WHO's WHO Bangladesh Award 2020" to 11 prominent personalities.
Bangladeshi-American Zayn Siddique has been named by President-elect Joe Biden to a key position in the office of the White House deputy chief of staff.
According to a series of new announcements made by the Biden Transition Team on Wednesday, Siddique has been named senior advisor to the White House deputy chief of staff.
He becomes the first Bangladeshi-American to be named to a senior position in the incoming Biden administration.
Originally from Bangladesh and raised in New York, Siddique is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, according to a press released issued by the Biden Transition Team.
He is the Chief of Staff for the Domestic and Economic Team of the Biden-Harris Transition. He was also a member of Vice President-elect Harris’s prep team for the 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate.
Previously, Siddique was the Deputy Policy Director for Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign and a Senior Policy Advisor to his senate campaign.
He has also served as a law clerk to Justice Elena Kagan of the US Supreme Court, Judge David Tatel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and Judge Dean Pregerson of the US District Court for the Central District of California.
In between his clerkships, Siddique practiced law as an associate at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, according to the press release.
Other appointments made by Biden include John McCarthy, senior adviser to the counsellor to the president; Thomas Winslow, senior adviser to the deputy chief of staff; Lisa Kohnke, director of Presidential Scheduling; Sarah Feldmann, chief of staff for the Office of the Management and Administration; Michael Leach, chief diversity and inclusion director; Christian Peele, deputy director of Management and Administration for Personnel; and Jeffrey Wexler, director of COVID-19 Operations.
The press release said the these diverse, qualified, and experienced appointees will play key roles across the White House in positions that will support day-to-day White House functions and facilitate broad engagement with the American people.
President-elect Biden said that to tackle the challenges facing our country and restore faith in government “we must build an administration with experienced, principled, and dedicated appointees”.
“These individuals are part of a White House staff that is ready to build back better immediately to make a difference in the lives of working families. They are accomplished public servants who will be instrumental in ensuring that our White House is efficient and effective in delivering for the American people,” Biden said.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said these dedicated public servants reflected the very best of the nation.
“They have the knowledge and expertise to help us meet the unprecedented challenges facing the American people. And President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with them to contain this pandemic, provide more relief for families and businesses, and rebuild our country in a way that lifts up all Americans,” she added.
Bangladesh has strongly protested against "baseless remarks and falsification" by US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo tagging Bangladesh with terrorist group al-Qaeda.
In his recent statement, Pompeo mentioned Bangladesh as a place where the terrorist group al-Qaeda carried out attacks, falsely apprehending similar terrorist attacks in future.
"Such irresponsible comment by a senior leader is very unfortunate and unacceptable," said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a protest note on Wednesday.
Bangladesh strongly rejected this kind of "baseless remarks and falsification", it said, pointing out that there is no evidence of any presence of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, under the bold leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, maintains a “zero-tolerance” policy against all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, and has been undertaking all possible measures and actions to address the menace, MoFA said.
"Our track record in countering terrorism has earned us global appreciation," it said.
In line with the commitment to countering terrorism, Bangladesh has become a party to all 14 international counter-terrorism conventions and are actively involved with international ‘preventive’ initiatives to counter terrorism.
"Bangladesh considers that the US Secretary of State’s referring to Bangladesh as a possible location for al-Qaeda operations, is indeed unfounded and offers no evidence," MoFA said.
If any such claim could be substantiated with evidence, the government of Bangladesh would be happy to take necessary measures against such activities, Dhaka said.
"However, if such a statement is made out of speculation, Bangladesh considers it very unfortunate, specially in the context of the ever-growing bilateral ties between the two friendly countries based on shared values, peace and common goals," reads the statement issued by MoFA.