Blinken invites Momen to US to mark 50-year ties

34

Dhaka, Feb 09: US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken has invited foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen to visit Washington DC to mark the 50th year of bilateral ties that began with the emergence of independent Bangladesh half a century ago.

“This morning, I have been informed about the invitation,” Momen told a BSS diplomatic correspondent.

He said the US Department of State conveyed the invitation to Bangladesh’s Washington mission in a message while Blinken himself expressed his willingness for the in person meeting during a telephonic call in December last.

“At that time he (Blinken) said he would like to meet me in-person in Washington DC in spring of this year,” Momen said.

A Foreign ministry official familiar with the development in Dhaka said the State Department in a message also conveyed Blinken’s willingness to meet his Bangladesh counterpart on April 4 at his office in Washington DC depending on Momen’s convenience.

The then US administration recognised Bangladesh on April 4, 1972 as Dhaka emerged as the free capital of the newborn country after a nine-month Liberation War against Pakistan amid a complicated global politics.

Foreign ministry officials said Bangladesh embassy in Washington and the US state department planned joint celebration at the Bangladesh chancery in the US capital on that day to mark the historic event, expected to be joined as well by Blinken.

They said a series of events were being chalked up coinciding with the anniversary while the US officials earlier said Washington expects to cement further the ties in many areas over the next 50 years.

The anniversary and invitation came amid a diplomatic and media uproar over a recent US sanction on some incumbent and former senior officials of Bangladesh’s elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) over allegations of “human right violation”.

Talking to the BSS correspondent Momen today reiterated engagements were underway in bilateral diplomatic channel regarding the issue.

Foreign ministry officials said an inter-ministerial coordination committee was constituted to monitor the human rights situation while Momen himself sent a letter to his counterpart explaining the RAB’s campaign against militancy and terrorism.

“Letters were sent as well to 73 US senators and congressmen, who are members of different congressional committees relating to foreign relation issues on the RAB issue,” a foreign ministry official said.

In an informal opinion exchange interaction earlier this week with diplomatic correspondents, US officials based in Dhaka’s US embassy said Washington actually seeks “strong” and “greater” cooperation including over different areas including security arena with Bangladesh envisioning next 50 years.