Newly-appointed Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Wednesday said the government will have much focus on its efforts to successfully hold a series of programmes marking the ‘Mujib Borsho’ at home and abroad keeping global focus on Rohingya issue unchanged for their early repatriation.
He said the mega celebration marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman engaging the international community will begin on March 17.
Foreign Secretary Masud made the remarks when members of Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) met him at his office congratulating him on his appointment.
He said they had a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday from where they got some directives for the New Year on key issues, including how to address trade-related challenges in the coming years.
The Foreign Secretary said they would put emphasis on good team work and working closely with Bangladesh missions abroad to uphold the progress across the world. “We’ve many works ahead. We’re chalking out many events.”
Highlighting Bangladesh’s economic progress over the past years, the Foreign Secretary said the world now expects Bangladesh’s leadership in many areas or looks at Bangladesh for taking the leadership role.
He said the government has decided to strengthen the activities of the ministry and expedite works in its missions abroad.
Foreign Secretary Masud said they will spend much time in public diplomacy and keep focus on the Rohingya issue so that global attention to it does not get reduced or affected.
He said the Rohingya issue draws international attention and all, including media, NGOs, INGOs, civil society and think tanks, will have to work together to keep the focus on the Rohingya issue unaffected.
The Foreign Secretary wants to see a “medium-term to long-term” situation as it will take time to repatriate all the Rohingyas even if the repatriation begins soon. “How we manage the situation depends on how quickly we can begin. We need to start, even if on a small scale.”
Talking about three fronts -- bilateral, multilateral; and accountability and justice, Foreign Secretary Masud said though many may term these three fronts “mutually exclusive”, these are complimentary to each other.
“Our key target is to make sure that Rohingyas return to their homeland with dignity and voluntarily. Keeping their repatriation in our mind, we’ll work on all fronts,” he said.
The Foreign Secretary said there is a separate dimension of accountability – confidence-building measures which will help expedite the repatriation process.
He termed China’s engagement in repatriation process as a kind of extension of bilateral engagement and is also to some extent trilateral approach in which Asean and Myanmar’s neighbors may come into.
Responding to a question on Bhasan Char relocation plan and its inclusion in the 2020 Joint Response Plan (JRP), Foreign Secretary Masud said discussions are going on.
About Bangladesh’s close neighbour India and recent development there centering the National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue, he said they will have to work amid challenges as it is usual to have some challenges among neighbours everywhere in the world.
“Bangladesh-India relations reached a new height,” he said referring to communication between the two countries’ leadership.
The Foreign Secretary said they are keeping eyes on the situation in India taking the assurance came from India officially into consideration.
He said this (NRC) is an internal issue of India and the initial instability is getting lessened gradually with a hope that India will manage it peacefully.