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FM Momen not in entourage of PM's India visit

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FM Momen not in entourage of PM's India visit

BANGLADESH

TBS Report
05 September, 2022, 11:45 am
Last modified: 05 September, 2022, 12:11 pm

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen Photo: Collected
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen Photo: Collected

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen Photo: Collected

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has cancelled the plans to join Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's entourage during her four-day state visit to India at the invitation of Narendra Modi.

According to media reports, health issues were cited as the reason for the foreign minister to skip this highly anticipated official visit which is taking place amid the Ukraine crisis, global economic downturn and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as the two South Asian neighbours seek enhanced cooperation to overcome the challenges.

"He (FM) is feeling ill. He didn't go with PM," an official told UNB on Monday.

A few days prior to this visit, the foreign affairs minister got himself tangled up in a controversy that caused him to face heavy backlash from countrymen, as well as in the political arena.

On 18 August, while speaking as the chief guest at a Janmashtami programme in JM Sen Hall in Chattrogram, the foreign minister said he had requested the Indian government to do whatever was necessary to help Bangladesh maintain stability and harmony.

"When I went to New Delhi, I told the Indian government that Sheikh Hasina must be sustained. Bangladesh will continue to march towards development and will truly become a country free of communalism under her leadership," he said.

His statement immediately created a stir in the political arena, drawing flak from the ruling Awami League and other parties. BNP said the government has resorted to foreign countries to survive.

Momen clarified his remark the day after, claiming that he was wrongly quoted.

In his explanation, Momen said what he wanted to say was that he had told the Indian government that Prime Minister Hasina's government was pledge-bound to ensure stability in the country and therefore he had sought India's help in this regard. However, the clarification did little to put an end to criticism.

A day after ruling Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader stated Momen's statement as his own, another senior leader yesterday said the party will not take responsibility for the statement of Abdul Momen citing that "the minister is not a member of the political party".

Later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release accused the media of distorting the speech of Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

This is not the first time that the minister faced public backlash over his statement. On 12 August in Sylhet, the foreign minister said that the people of Bangladesh are in heaven compared to other countries in the global recession.

 

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