Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today said there is “no reason to worry” about new US sanctions, and described Bangladesh, US ties as “very good”. “The US puts sanctions in thousands. These (sanctions) come one way and go another way. There is nothing to worry or panic about,” he told reporters when asked whether the government is concerned about new sanctions from the US. Read more: We don't expect US to impose more sanctions: Shahriar Momen also said the US puts sanctions when they want to put pressure, and that there are examples of sanctions withdrawing those sanctions. Citing multifaceted engagements between the two countries, the foreign minister said the US comes up with suggestions at times as there is cordial relationship between the two countries. The US embassy said they raised the December 14 incident in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh area at the “highest levels” of Bangladesh government, as well as with the Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC. Read more: US envoy meets Momen, shares displeasure over embarrassment “The US ambassador (Peter Haas) is a bit panicked about his security. Our ambassador said there is no reason to get panicked,” Momen had said on Monday. Earlier today, the foreign minister spoke as the chief guest at the BIISS Research Colloquium 2022. The Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organized the event at the BIISS auditorium. BIISS Chairman Ambassador Kazi Imtiaz Hossain and its Director General Major General Sheikh Pasha Habib Uddin also spoke at the event. The event was divided into three sessions. In each session, three speakers presented their recent research that concerns Bangladesh's national interest. The session one was on Bangladesh’s regional and global outreach which was chaired by BIISS Chairman. Session two was on security and strategic affairs chaired by former Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh, General (retd) Md Abdul Mubeen. The third session highlighted “Diplomacy and Negotiations” which was chaired by Professor Dr Imtiaz Ahmed.
Prime Minister's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury believes that the US sanction will not be a bar to import Russian petroleum fuel. Referring to meeting with US Under Secretary Jose Fernandez during his recent USA visit, he said that he was communicated that the import of food, fuel and fertiliser is out of the preview of the US sanctions imposed on Russia due to its war against Ukraine. “This my is realization from conversation with US Under Secretary. The import of Russian fuels will not cross the US sanctions” he told reporters while addressing a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday. Tawfiq Elahi said that since the United States has no restrictions on food products, fertilizers and fuel, Washington should not have any objection if Bangladesh imports oil from Russia. Read: Bangladesh may prefer to import Russian oil via third country He said, there are some diplomatic norms in this case. But simply as "I understand it, when it is said at a ministerial level, it has an importance." The adviser also said that the US Under Secretary praised Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Based on that praise, he wants to know if there is an opportunity to import oil from Russia. Last week, following a high-level meeting of the government, Prime Minister's adviser on private industry and investment, Salman F Rahman, told reporters that oil import from Russia is not possible due to the US sanctions. In a press conference, senior secretary of the energy division Mahbub Hossain said that currently Bangladesh has the petroleum reserve capacity for 45 days. “Now we have set a target to increase it to 60 days-capacity,” he said the project is being implemented to increase the petroleum reserve capacity to 3 million metric tons from the existing from 1.5 million metric tons.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has conveyed to US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken that the people of Bangladesh did neither accept nor like the designated sanctions imposed on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and its some of the present and former officials. “I shared the spirit of the country’s people. They (people of Bangladesh) didn’t accept it. They didn’t like it,” he told reporters at a media briefing at Foreign Service Academy while responding to a question on his recent telephone conversation with the US Secretary of State. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Secretary (East) Mashfee Binte Shams and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran, among others, were present at the media briefing on Indian President Ram Nath Kovind's ongoing three-day state visit to Bangladesh. Earlier, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Secretary Blinken reaffirmed their long-standing partnership with Bangladesh on development, economic growth, and security. "The two leaders discussed the importance of human rights and agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation and address shared global challenges," said the Spokesperson. Also read: Blinken calls up FM Momen; discusses bilateral issues Dr Momen explained why the people of the country did not accept it, noting that the two countries have around 50 years of trusted friendship. “We discussed all the issues through a number of dialogue platforms. We resolved all issues with our neighbours through discussions. Naturally, we had an expectation that you would inform us beforehand in the case of taking any decision. We didn’t like it,” said the Foreign Minister what he conveyed to his US counterpart. Dr Momen described RAB as a “very disciplined force free from corruption” and said RAB is working very efficiently as the US has taken a number of initiatives globally against terrorism, human trafficking, crimes and war against drugs. He said no terrorist attacks took place in Bangladesh after the Holey Artisan incident due to RAB’s efficient handling of the issues. Also read: Efforts on to change Washington’s decision of sanctions: FM Momen “People have a lot of confidence in RAB,” Dr Momen said, adding that neither side did talk about withdrawal of the sanctions but laid emphasis on discussions. In reply, the US Secretary of State said they will discuss as there are scopes for working together in many areas like human rights, democracy, peacekeeping and climate change, said the Foreign Minister. “I told him that we’re a democratic country,” Dr Momen said, adding that Bangladesh gives much importance on strengthening democracy and addressing human rights issues as the country has a good reputation worldwide. The Foreign Minister said there are many ongoing dialogue mechanisms between the two countries and suggested the US Secretary of State to call if there are any problems and they are likely to have a meeting in Washington in the coming Spring. “He was very positive, I should say, the way he responded to us. We’ve a good rapport I should say,” Dr Momen said. The US Secretary of State made a phone call to Dr Momen on Wednesday evening and discussed issues of mutual interests. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Victory of Bangladesh, the US Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Dr Momen spoke over phone at length. "Both renewed the resolve to take forward the relationship further. They also agreed to increased engagement while celebrating the 50th anniversary of bilateral relationship,” the State Minister tweeted. Earlier, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller was summoned by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Saturday to convey Dhaka’s “discontent” over the designated sanctions imposed by the US Departments of Treasury and of State on some of the present and former officials of the RAB. Foreign Secretary Momen expressed Bangladesh’s disappointment that the decision was taken "unilaterally" by the US Administration without any prior consultation with the Government of Bangladesh. He flagged that the issues that were cited for imposing the designated sanctions remained under active discussions, including under the framework of the regular institutional dialogues between the two sides, and that yet the US decision came without any prior intimation. The Foreign Secretary regretted that the US decided to undermine an agency of the government that had been on the forefront of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other heinous transnational crimes that were considered to be shared priorities withU successive US administrations. Ambassador Miller took note of the concerns raised by the Government of Bangladesh, and assured of conveying the same to his Capital, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He concurred that the excellent multifaceted relations between two countries could be further deepened through established consultation mechanisms and high level visits. Ambassador Miller further expressed the willingness of the US Government to remain closely engaged with the Government of Bangladesh in the coming days on issues of mutual interest.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), as an entity, has been working to protect human rights since its formation and not to violate those, said Commander Al Moin, director of RAB legal and media wing, on Saturday. He said this at a press briefing while replying to questions from journalists on the sanctions imposed by the United States on RAB and its seven current and former officials over the allegation of violating human rights. The briefing was held at RAB’s Karwan Bazar media centre. Commander Moin said RAB has so far lost 28 of its 9,000 members in different operations and got 2,000 injured and 1,000 maimed. Also read: US imposes sanctions on RAB, 7 individuals He said Bangladesh has been able to tackle militancy and free the Sundarbans from robbers due to RAB’s constant efforts. RAB has been working to bring back the militants and forest robbers to normal life through rehabilitating them alongside working to protect the human rights, the RAB commander insisted. “We’ve not received any official letter regarding the sanctions yet. We’ll take steps upon receiving the official letter,” said Moin. He said there is no scope to break laws as a RAB official as this elite force is much stricter than any other forces when it comes to punishing its members for defying laws. The United States on Friday imposed human rights-related sanctions on Benzir Ahmed, current Inspector General of the Bangladesh Police and former Director General of RAB, and six other individuals on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. Also read: Sanctions on RAB: FM says impact on relations depends on US The US Department of State announced visa restrictions on Benazir Ahmed, which it says, due to his “involvement in gross violations of human rights” making him ineligible for entry into the United States. RAB as an entity, Benzir Ahmed, and six other officials were designated by the Department of the Treasury under the Global Magnitsky sanctions programme in connection with serious human rights abuse, said the US Department of State.
The Treasury Department of US on Thursday slapped six Russian technology companies with sanctions for supporting Kremlin intelligence agencies engaged in “dangerous and disruptive cyber attacks.” But only one of them stands out for its international footprint and partnerships with such IT heavyweights as Microsoft and IBM. That company, Positive Technologies, claims more than 2,000 customers in 30 countries, including major European banks Societe Generale and ING, as well as Samsung, SK Telecom of South Korea and BT, the British telecommunications giant. Also read: Microsoft server hack has victims hustling to stop intruders Its clients also include the FSB, a successor to the KGB that “cultivates and co-opts criminal hackers” who carry out ransomware and phishing attacks, the Treasury Department said. The U.S. said big conventions hosted by Positive Technologies are “used as recruiting events” by the FSB and the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. GRU agents are the swashbucklers of Russian intelligence. The agency stands accused of spearheading the hack-and-leak operation that interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to favor Donald Trump. Its agents also conducted the most damaging cyberattack on record, the runaway 2017 NotPetya virus that did more than $10 billion in global damage, its victims including the shipping giant Maersk and pharmaceutical company Merck. The CEO of the software industry-supported Internet Research Institute in Moscow, Karen Kazaryan, said he was not familiar with most of the Russian IT companies sanctioned on Thursday. But Positive Tech is well-known in the industry for its annual Hack Days conference, which is scheduled for May 20-21 at a Moscow hotel. Also read: Microsoft buying speech recognition firm Nuance in $16B deal Former CIA analyst Michael van Landingham applauded the naming and sanctioning of Russian IT companies known to have aided and abetted malign government activity. “Naming specific companies can create incentives for educated and skilled Russians who might be able to obtain jobs elsewhere where they don’t support Russian state hacking,” he said. Positive Tech’s specialty is identifying vulnerabilities in popular software such as Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The world’s intelligence agencies regularly lean on companies like it not to disclose potent vulnerabilities publicly when they find them but to instead quietly share them for hacking adversaries’ networks. The U.S. did not accuse Positive Technologies of any such behavior and the Treasury Department declined to answer questions about the company’s activities beyond a press release.
The Treasury Department of the United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, and 10 other top officials from Hong Kong and mainland China.