Have zero tolerance against terrorists, FM says

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said Bangladesh will decide its policy towards Afghanistan independently after observing the situation, their attitudes and policies but no terrorists will be patronized.

"We've zero tolerance...we'll in no way patronise any terrorists," he said referring to the involvement of few Bangladeshis in Afghanistan in the previous Taliban government.

Dr Momen said he was asked whether Bangladesh will follow the policy of India or Pakistan but he made it clear that the decision of Bangladesh is not linked with the decision of any other country.

Bangladesh has a historic relationship with Afghanistan and is observing the situation in Afghanistan which is a member of Saarc.

"We believe in democracy. We should ensure people's welfare and we're yet to take any decision on the Afghanistan issue," he said.

The Taliban on September 7 announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan.

The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh always believes in a people's government that comes through a political and democratic process and Bangladesh always extends support to such a government where people's desire is reflected.

State Minister for Foreign Affair M Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is still waiting for a permanent government in place in Afghanistan without hurriedly reaching a decision whether it will welcome the interim government or not.

"We're still observing the situation very closely. Our focus still remains on peace and stability fully free from any war," he said.

Vaccine sharing without any condition

Dr Momen reiterated Bangladesh's call for making COVID-19 vaccine a public good noting that there are incidents of date expiry of vaccine doses for not sharing those timely with other countries.

"Vaccine should be a public good," he said adding that some are tagging some conditions while sharing vaccine doses which he sees as an "indirect pressure" on countries like Bangladesh.

On his recent visit to Switzerland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Dr Momen said, "We had a very busy schedule with some positive outcomes."

Referring to his meeting with UNHCR, the Foreign Minister said the UN will soon get engaged in Bhasan Char.

He said they also discussed the climate issues as Bangladesh remains very vocal on the issues.

The Foreign Minister said they want actions and delivery with fulfillment of commitments on climate front.

Earlier, Dr Momen said a successful pandemic recovery must involve universal vaccination ending vaccine inequality.

In this regard, he referred to the unfortunate manifestation of vaccine nationalism and called the world to stand united against such vaccine inequity.

"It is time for the development partners to be more humane and help the deserving without discrimination. Vaccine should be a public good," said the Foreign Minister while speaking at the United Nations high-level Forum on the Culture of Peace held at the United Nations General Assembly.

Removing Bangladesh from UK's Covid red list

Dr Momen once again urged the UK to remove Bangladesh from the red-listed countries with travel restrictions noting that there has been an improvement in his country's Covid-19 situation.

The Foreign Minister raised the issue with his British counterpart Dominic Raab during their recent virtual meeting.

Bangladesh highlighted its "robust vaccine roll-out" and significant reductions in Covid infection to 9.82% and sufferings of more than 7000 British-Bangladeshis currently stranded in Bangladesh.

Dr Momen said the strategic relations between the two countries should be strengthened with a positive change in the concept of relations and the UK should consider removing Bangladesh from the Covid red-list countries.

If anyone from a red listed country enters the UK, he or she must book a quarantine hotel (cost 2500 pound sterling) and undergo coronavirus tests which are quite expensive.

Bangladesh and the United Kingdom held the fourth Strategic Dialogue in London on September 9 and reviewed all aspects of the relations between the two countries with a focus on post-Brexit and post-Covid new strategic partnership.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen led the Bangladesh delegation while Sir Philip Robert Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) led the UK side at the dialogue.

The Bangladesh side raised the issue related to travel restrictions so that the UK removes Bangladesh from the red-list.

Earlier, Philip Barton and Robert Chatterton Dickson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh welcomed Masud Bin Momen and his delegation to the 4th UK-BD Strategic Dialogue.

Discussions were held on a range of bilateral issues that the both sides think will strengthen the Bangladesh-UK ties.

The Bangladesh-UK Strategic Dialogue was launched in Dhaka in 2017 while the second Strategic Dialogue took place at the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in March 2018 and the third dialogue was held in Dhaka on April 24, 2019.

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