Momen to meet Blinken in Washington Monday

AK Momen and Antony J Blinken

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and US secretary of state Antony J Blinken are scheduled to have a bilateral meeting in Washington Monday to discuss ways to advance the Bangladesh-US ties on key fronts, reports UNB.

Momen is scheduled to reach Washington from New York Sunday, said a senior official, adding that the meeting is likely to be held at 2:00pm US time.

During the meeting, Bangladesh will seek efforts to enhance relations on trade and investment fronts, reiterate its call for the return of the killer of Father of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, withdrawal of sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and discuss issues of mutual interests.

The two sides will also focus on their ongoing cooperation to deal with the climate crisis, meet the needs of Rohingyas, their safe return to Myanmar, andpromote regional security through UN peacekeeping operations.

The US is likely to raise issues related to democracy and human rights, said a diplomatic source.

On 4 April last year, Blinken met with Momen to celebrate and reflect on the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-US relations.

They discussed the "tremendous economic potential" of the relationship and reflected on the ways the two countries collaborated over the last half century - including in growing people-to-people ties with vibrant Fulbright exchanges.

Blinken reaffirmed the importance of protecting human rights, the rule of law, and freedom of religion as the basis for safe and prosperous democratic societies.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, Momen said: "I'd say we're lucky because the American secretary of state doesn't give invitations frequently. We got three in a row. America is paying much attention to our journey on the highway of development."

Momen said the US is the only country which provided a large number of vaccines to Bangladesh for free during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The US helped Bangladesh manage Covid very efficiently, he added.

"They even supported us the most after the Rohingya influx. Other countries helped us as well. I'll express our gratitude when I meet him (Blinken)," Momen said.

Asked what will be discussed in the meeting with the US secretary of state, Momen said the Rohingya and bilateral trade issues will come up.

We fought for democracy. Three million people gave their lives to uphold democracy and human rights. So, we don't need lessons on democracy
AK Abdul Momen

About the US concern regarding democracy in Bangladesh, the foreign minister said: "We fought for democracy. Three million people gave their lives to uphold democracy and human rights. So, we don't need lessons on democracy."

"We want a fair election. America also wants a fair election; we don't disagree with that. We have already made necessary institutional arrangements to ensure a free and fair election."

The foreign minister is scheduled to return home on 13 April.