U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke over the phone

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke over the phone with Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, discussing ways to deepen economic, defence and counterterrorism cooperation while agreeing to work together to address challenges in South Asia and the greater Indo-Pacific region. The call took place prior to Momen’s departure for a 5-day official visit to the U.S. capital.  The issue of Myanmar, more specifically a durable solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis, also figured prominently in the call as did the importance of respect for labour and human rights, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the call.

“We affirmed the strong, enduring U.S.-Bangladesh relationship and look forward to working together to address challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said in a tweet. In a diplomatic note to the US government last week, Bangladesh requested a meeting between the two foreign ministers during Momen’s trip. No word though on whether that would go ahead.

 

The High Court directed the government to shut down all illegal brick kilns still in operation in Chattogram within 14 working days in order to curb pollution. The HC also asked the authorities to submit a report to it after complying with the directives by March 14. The bench of Justices Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Mohi Uddin Shamim issued the order and rule while hearing a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) seeking necessary directives on this issue.

The district administration and Department of Environment office of Chattogram informed the HC through their lawyers that they are working to shut down illegal brick kilns in the district in line with the directive, but they need more time to complete the task. In December, the HC gave just 7 days to perform the same task, but that deadline was not met. The court also issued a rule asking the government to explain why its inaction to shut down illegal brick kilns should not be declared illegal.

 

The number of people administered with their first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh rose to 2,673,038 (2.67 million) as the vaccination campaign completed its first fortnight with another 181,985 people vaccinated (1 dose) in around 1,010 vaccination centres across the country on Wednesday (February 24), according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The number of people registered for the vaccines rose to 3,861,876 till afternoon on the same day. .

The infection or positivity rate of Covid-19 continued to decrease in the country -against a total of 16,152 tests reported on Wednesday, the positivity rate was just 2.65 percent. On the previous day, this rate was 3.13 percent. Five people died from Covid-19, according to DGHS,

taking the total number of deaths to 8,379. At least 428 new infections were recorded in the meantime, taking the total number of people infected to 544,544.

 

The Anti-Corruption Commission confiscated properties in the name of former NRB Global Bank Limited managing director Prasanta Kumar Halder, including about 7,080 decimals of land. The commission investigator M Salahuddin confirmed that he had recently seized hundreds of deeds from Narayanganj area relating to the properties, following a court order on the day while the price of the properties is yet to be estimated. He said that there were huge lands in Narayanganj, Narsingdi, and Dhaka.

Of the properties, the investigator also confiscated a 10-storey building at Uttara in the capital. PK Halder is wanted in a corruption case filed by ACC in January 2020 on charge of money laundering and amassing wealth worth Tk 274.91 crore beyond his known sources of income. He had allegedly embezzled over Tk 10,000 crore by taking loans from different financial institutions in the name of companies owned by him and his family members. He is currently residing in Canada, having managed to exit the country despite grave allegations pending against him.

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