Bangladesh is keen to assist Sierra Leone in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector alongside the field of agriculture, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told his Sierra Leonean counterpart on Tuesday in New York.
"I also told him (the Sierra Leonean minister) that apart from agriculture, we have also made great progress in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and ICT. We're keen to help Sierra Leone not only in the agricultural sector but also in the ICT sector," said the Foreign Minister.
Momen was briefing reporters over Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's and his engagements as they are in New York to attend the 78th United Nations General Assembly.
Talking about a bilateral meeting, he said the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, David J Francis, praised Bangladesh for its unprecedented achievements in the overall development of the agricultural sector and ensuring food security.
Francis sought assistance from Bangladesh for the development of these sectors of Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leonean minister thanked Bangladesh for the contribution of its troops, who worked in the African country under the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.
In this context, Momen extended his sincere thanks for recognizing Bengali as a state language of the African country. "The people of Bangladesh have a very friendly attitude towards Sierra Leone," he told his counterpart.
The foreign minister of Sierra Leone requested for setting up a Bangladesh mission in his country.
Momen said Bangladesh is working to expand relations with Africa and many initiatives have been taken accordingly.
Momen also joined a high-level meeting of the Rohingya Contact Group of OIC and called for resource mobilization from OIC members to speed up the ongoing legal process at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.
In reply to a question, he said the Rohingya crisis is not our problem alone, rather it is a global issue. "We've given them shelter on humanitarian ground. But others (international community) also have a responsibility here. The countries that are vocal on humanitarian issues and human rights have much larger responsibility here," he said.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh often reminds them to keep pressure on Myanmar to solve the crisis. "I must say that they continue exerting enough pressure on Myanmar," he said.
Noting that Myanmar is not an enemy country of Bangladesh rather it is a neighbour, he said Myanmar agreed to take Rohingyas back to their country. It also said that they would ensure their safety and create a conducive environment for Rohingyas. But Myanmar authority has not kept their words as of today, though discussion continues on the issue, he added.
"I am always optimistic. I hope our initiative taken to solve the Rohingya crisis will be a success... It is a slow process. Myanmar created this problem. So, the permanent solution to the crisis depends on Myanmar," said Momen, adding that some 1.2 million Rohingya people are now staying in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh foreign minister also attended a high-level meeting on deep-sea scientific research jointly organized by Bangladesh, Argentina, and the International Seabed Authority at the United Nations headquarters.
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