Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen says he has no information about any additional sanctions on Bangladesh by the US as reported by a newspaper.
“What (sanctions) will come about, I have no idea,” he said when questioned about media reports on the matter. “I don’t know. They have never told us before making such decisions.”
The Bangla daily Kalbela published a report on Sunday stating that the US was ‘readying’ additional sanctions on Bangladesh and the government was taking ‘preparations’.
The foreign minister had not commented on the report of the sanctions at a press conference on Sunday except to object to a segment of the report where it described him as “a lobbyist for a Chinese institution before he became minister.”
Asked why he had only objected to one section of the report, Momen said on Monday: “I don’t know. Kalbela wrote a report based on some information, but we have no idea on the matter.”
“However, there was some false information in the report. False information that is a little demeaning to our country’s government. The false information is that the foreign minister, meaning myself, worked with a Chinese lobby. This is a complete and outright lie.”
He elaborated on his objection, saying, “I felt it was important to point out the lie. I never worked for a Chinese company. I was never a lobbyist for anyone.”
“In fact, you can say that I lived much of my life in America and worked there. I don’t know why they did this. It is very strange that they knowingly gave this false and fabricated information.”
The foreign minister called the report weak, stating, “On the basis that it contained some wrong information and we haven’t heard anything about the claim. So it’s very strange and surprising. And they didn’t give any references either.”
Momen referred to Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak’s statement on sanctions: “As the agriculture minister said yesterday, there is no reason to impose sanctions on the country.”
“But, it depends on their government. If it is imposed, it is very unfortunate. Still, America is imposing thousands of sanctions. We hope that America will come to its senses and not continue this.”
Referring to recent visits by US State Department officials and their speeches on various forums, he said: “Their speeches were very positive. It was very balanced and unbiased.”
To a question about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s comments on sanctions, the foreign minister said, “You should ask her. But politicians often use statements as warnings for others. How that will be taken literally, I can’t say.”
“We are not a country you can just toss away. We are largely not as poor, needy, or reliant on charity as we used to be. We have pride as a nation. We are proud of our heritage and our position. Despite various adversities, we are a victorious nation and we have our achievements.”
“So if anyone looks at us askance, we are flabbergasted, because we are not like that. This is an indication that Bangladesh is a victorious nation that we will not be intimidated by any kind of temptation, we will not flinch from any adverse environments. We will face challenges and overcome them. We have the capacity. I think that is the statement that has been made.”
TRAVEL WARNING ‘VERY UNFORTUNATE’
The travel warning issued by the US Embassy in Dhaka on the travel of its citizens to Bangladesh is ‘unfortunate’, Momen said.
“It is very unfortunate. The elections are seven to eight months away and already the US Embassy is asking citizens to be cautious. You should ask them why they have done this.”
“There is no wave of murders in our country, people aren’t shot down in the street, no one kills people assembling, the number of killings on our streets are close to zero without prior hostility.”
“And why would people be angry against American citizens? American citizens aren’t doing anything wrong. It is very strange. I don’t know. You should ask them why they have made this decision.”
The foreign minister described the state of law and order in the country as ‘very good’.
“There is no reason for any particular violence in our country for which any advance warning should be given.”
“I don’t know, you should ask them. Rather they should give a warning that you should be careful when you go to malls, bars, and schools in the US. That should be a warning. That would make things more consistent. Anyway, that is their affair. Surely they have their own reasoning, which they can explain more clearly.’