Dhaka expects Washington to change its position over sanctions: Momen

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Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said Dhaka expects that the United States (US) will change its position over the sanctions imposed on some of the present and former officials of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

“We expect they’ll change their position … We’ll discuss the issue with them… our efforts will continue (regarding this),” he said addressing a media briefing as he was approached to make a comment on the recent US sanctions.

The foreign minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assigned him, Home Minister and Law Affairs Minister to look into the matter.

He was virtually connected from Turkey to brief the media on the upcoming state visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to Bangladesh from December 15-17.

Dr Momen said the US decision took the decision to slap the sanction on some officials as some NGOs or human rights organisations instigated them, and it was unfortunate that the US took the step without consulting with the Bangladesh government.

He said RAB plays a vital role in uprooting terrorism as well as drug trafficking from Bangladesh while the US global policy is to prevent terrorism.

“It’s not like that all the decisions of the US are correct,” he added.

The foreign minister said he does believe that the sanction will not affect Dhaka-Washington bilateral ties as it has been going “very sweet” with continuous discussion on fronts.

About the Indian President visit, Dr Momen said it is a “reflection of the high priority” that both Dhaka and New Delhi attach to the bilateral relationship.

He said though the Indian president’s visit is mainly ceremonial all issues between Bangladesh and India are expected to be discussed during the bilateral talks.

On Friday, the US Departments of Treasury and of Department of State imposed human rights-related sanctions on RAB and seven current and former top officials of the elite force, including incumbent inspector general of police Benazir Ahmed, who previously commanded the elite force as its director-general.

The next day, on Saturday, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen expressed Dhaka’s discontent over the US sanctions summoning its ambassador Earl Miller to his office.

“Foreign Secretary Momen expressed Bangladesh’s disappointment that the decision was taken unilaterally by the US administration without any prior consultation with the Government of Bangladesh” as the US envoy reached his office, a foreign ministry statement said.

The statement said the US ambassador took note of the Bangladesh concerns raised by Bangladesh and assured of conveying the message to Washington DC.

“He (Miller) concurred that the excellent multifaceted relations between two countries could be further deepened through established consultation mechanisms and high-level visits,” it read.

The envoy, it said, further expressed the willingness of the US Government to remain closely engaged with the Government of Bangladesh in the coming days on issues of mutual interest,” it said.