Russian allegations against Peter Haas completely false: US

US state department spokesman John KirbyAFP file photo

The US has termed the Russian allegation against US ambassador in Dhaka, Peter Haas, as completely false. Coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House, John Kirby said this in response to a question during a briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington DC.

A questioner at the briefing said that Moscow recently accused US Ambassador in Bangladesh Peter Haas for interfering in Bangladesh's internal affairs.  As you know, Ambassador Peter Haas is very much engaged in restoring – holding a free, fair, and inclusive election with the political parties, civil societies, and the other stakeholders.  And he expressed his security concerns in Bangladesh as he is facing violent rhetoric from people in the Bangladesh regime.  So what is your response about the Russian allegations and Haas' safety and security in Bangladesh?

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In response, John Kirby said, “Back in the Navy we had a single two-syllable word to describe an allegation like that, which I will spare you from.  I’ll just tell you that it’s absolutely false and the Russians know it’s false.  This is just classic Russian propaganda.  They know it’s false.”

He further said, “We want the same thing the Bangladeshi people want and that’s free and fair elections.  And that’s what the ambassador wants – and his team was and will continue to work with all sectors of Bangladeshi society, including civil society, including engagement with opposition parties and individuals as well as the sitting government, to work hard to make sure that the democratic aspirations of the Bangladeshi people are respected.  That’s what we’re doing.”

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The same questioner then said that India, China, and Russia, according to India Today reports, are on the same side to back Bangladesh prime minister, and Bangladesh current regime is moving ahead with another one-sided election, crackdown on opposition, and putting opposition in jail.  So are you stepping back from your position, as you say that you will take all necessary steps to hold a free, fair, and credible election in Bangladesh?

John Kirby said, “We believe in a free and fair election in Bangladesh and we’ll continue to make that case.  We don’t take sides in foreign elections, and that doesn’t change with – in Bangladesh’s case either.  We support a free and fair election.  We’re going to continue, as the ambassador team will, to do what we can to support that basic aspiration of the people of Bangladesh.”

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