Momen relays people’s reaction to RAB being sanctioned to counterpart
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has conveyed to US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken that the people of Bangladesh did neither accept nor like the designated sanctions imposed on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and its some of the present and former officials.
"I shared the spirit of the country's people. They (people of Bangladesh) didn't accept it. They didn't like it," he said while responding to a question on his recent telephone conversation with the US Secretary of State.
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Secretary Blinken reaffirmed their long-standing partnership with Bangladesh on development, economic growth, and security.
"The two leaders discussed the importance of human rights and agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation and address shared global challenges," said the Spokesperson.
Dr Momen explained why the people of the country did not accept it, noting that the two countries have around 50 years of trusted friendship.
"We discussed all the issues through a number of dialogue platforms. We resolved all issues with our neighbours through discussions. Naturally, we had an expectation that you would inform us beforehand in the case of taking any decision. We didn't like it," said the Foreign Minister what he conveyed to his US counterpart.
Dr Momen described RAB as a "very disciplined force free from corruption" and said RAB is working very efficiently as the US has taken a number of initiatives globally against terrorism, human trafficking, crimes and war against drugs.
He said no terrorist attacks took place in Bangladesh after the Holey Artisan incident due to RAB's efficient handling of the issues.
"People have a lot of confidence in RAB," Dr Momen said, adding that neither side did talk about withdrawal of the sanctions but laid emphasis on discussions.
In reply, the US Secretary of State said they will discuss as there are scopes for working together in many areas like human rights, democracy, peacekeeping and climate change, said the Foreign Minister.
"I told him that we're a democratic country," Dr Momen said, adding that Bangladesh gives much importance on strengthening democracy and addressing human rights issues as the country has a good reputation worldwide.
The Foreign Minister said there are many ongoing dialogue mechanisms between the two countries and suggested the US Secretary of State to call if there are any problems and they are likely to have a meeting in Washington in the coming Spring.
"He was very positive, I should say, the way he responded to us. We've a good rapport I should say," Dr Momen said.
The US Secretary of State made a phone call to Dr Momen on Wednesday evening and discussed issues of mutual interests.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Victory of Bangladesh, the US Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Dr Momen spoke over phone at length.
"Both renewed the resolve to take forward the relationship further. They also agreed to increased engagement while celebrating the 50th anniversary of bilateral relationship," the State Minister tweeted.
Earlier, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller was summoned by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen to convey Dhaka's "discontent" over the designated sanctions imposed by the US Departments of Treasury and of State on some of the present and former officials of the RAB.
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.
He flagged that the issues that were cited for imposing the designated sanctions remained under active discussions, including under the framework of the regular institutional dialogues between the two sides, and that yet the US decision came without any prior intimation.
The Foreign Secretary regretted that the US decided to undermine an agency of the government that had been on the forefront of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other heinous transnational crimes that were considered to be shared priorities withU successive US administrations.
Ambassador Miller took note of the concerns raised by the Government of Bangladesh, and assured of conveying the same to his Capital, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He concurred that the excellent multifaceted relations between two countries could be further deepened through established consultation mechanisms and high level visits.
Ambassador Miller 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.
The Foreign Secretary regretted that the allegations made against RAB over certain specific incidents had been explained, along with information on the corresponding justice and accountability measures undertaken, to not just to the US Administration but also to a number of UN human rights mechanisms on multiple occasions.
Masud Momen stated that the US decision appeared to have been based more on unverified or unsubstantiated allegations of command responsibility than on the facts involved in connection with certain specific incidents that had taken place at the local level.
The Foreign Secretary said the decision targeting the Bangladesh officials was made in tandem with those concerning certain countries that stand alleged to have committed serious international crimes, i.e. 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing', by the UN and other concerned international bodies.
He emphasized that the Government of Bangladesh remained committed to upholding the rule of law and human rights, and maintained a 'zero tolerance' approach to any wrongdoings or aberrations by its law enforcement agencies.
Foreign Secretary Momen stressed that all uniformed services in Bangladesh followed a set of legal and administrative procedures to address any allegation of wrongdoing against any of their members, and that RAB was no exception in this regard.
He flagged that human rights violations and abuses were reported to be committed by wayward elements within the law enforcement agencies in many countries, including in the US, but that would not justify singling out the high officials of any law enforcing agency for targeted sanctions.
Foreign Secretary Momen underscored the need for pursuing the pathway of dialogue, engagement and collaboration, instead of resorting to 'naming and shaming' that has proven to be a self-defeating exercise.
He highlighted that the observance of the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two friendly countries next year should open up further avenues to enhance the breadth and dimensions of the existing partnership.
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