Sheikh Hasina holds several bilateral meetings on UNGA sidelines

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had bilateral meetings with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Timor-Leste President Dr Jose Ramos-Horta and Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen in a media briefing on PM’s daily engagements after the meetings at the bilateral meeting room in the United Nations Headquarters on Wednesday said, “Issues regarding interest of Bangladesh were discussed during the meetings.  Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi paid a courtesy call on Sheikh Hasina at the her place of residence in New York.”

The foreign minister further said that during the meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for peaceful use of nuclear energy and reiterated Bangladesh’s steadfast commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Sheikh Hasina recalled that Bangladesh ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty after she formed government for her first term.

She expressed her sincere thanks to IAEA for providing technical support to Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Savar Nuclear Reactor Research Establishment.

About a bilateral meeting between foreign ministers of Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, Momen said 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. Bangladesh is keen to assist Sierra Leone in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector alongside the field of agriculture, he told his Sierra Leonean counterpart.

Momen said, “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 but also in the ICT sector.”

David J Francis sought assistance from Bangladesh for the development of these sectors of Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leonean minister also thanked Bangladesh for the contribution of Bangladeshi troops, who worked in the African country under the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission, to Sierra Leone.

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 now Bangladesh is working to expand relations with Africa and many initiatives have been taken accordingly. The Bangladesh foreign minister 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 against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Rohingyas. In reply to a question, Momen said the Rohingya crisis is not our problem alone, rather it is a global issue.

He said, “We’ve given them shelter on humanitarian ground. But others (international community) have also responsibility here. The countries that are vocal on humanitarian issues and human rights have much larger responsibility here.”

The foreign minister said Bangladesh often reminds them to keep pressure on Myanmar to solve the issue. “I must say that they should continue exerting enough pressure on Myanmar. Myanmar is a neighbour of Bangladesh, he said Myanmar agreed to take Rohingyas back.”

He went on saying that Myanmar also told that they would ensure safety Rohingyas and will create a conducive environment for them. But Myanmar authority has not kept their words as of today, though discussion continues on the issue.

Momen said, “I am always optimistic. I hope our initiative taken to solve the Rohingya crisis will be a success…. The permanent solution to the crisis depends on Myanmar,” Momen said. Some 1.2 million Rohingya people are now staying in Bangladesh, he continued.

The Bangladesh foreign minister, as well, 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 in New York.

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