Nat'l interest first in taking foreign help

Bangladesh will give top priority to its national interest and assess the needs before accepting any foreign support for fighting terrorism amid a flurry of offers from friendly countries following the July 1 terrorist attack at Holey Artisan Bakery.

“We will see what our friendly countries can offer and what we need. We will first assess our needs and consider our national interest,” Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told a press briefing at his ministry ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Mongolia.

He said Bangladesh received an overwhelming response from the friendly countries following the attack and they expressed solidarity with Bangladesh.

Asked about the US offer of help, Ali said the home ministry would work on it and also would make a decision about what type of support Bangladesh would accept from other countries in combating terrorism.

The attack on the Gulshan eatery left nine Italians, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, an Indian, a Bangladesh-born US citizen and two police officials killed.

The minister claimed that Bangladesh's image abroad has not been affected at all, because terrorism is a global problem now and many other countries have been facing the challenge of terrorist attacks.

The government is firm in its resolve to defeat the evil forces, he added.

He said Bangladesh deserves high appreciation from all for the way it handled the two recent attacks in Dhaka and Kishoreganj. “It's surely a tragedy and a condemnable act. But we should be proud of the way we handled it.”

Nobody said they would not visit Bangladesh, rather everyone expressed solidarity with Bangladesh, Ali mentioned. “Even an injured Japanese citizen who worked for Jica said he would come back to Bangladesh to join work.”

The families of the Japanese victims said they would travel to Bangladesh again, the minister told reporters.

Asked about a recent US circular, Ali said the family members of the US officials in Dhaka were given an option as per their domestic laws. Similar options were offered to officials' family members in 33 other countries.

The US State Department in the notice said it was authorising the voluntary departure of family members of government officials at the US embassy in Dhaka.

On the prime minister's trip to Mongolia, the foreign minister said the premier will depart for Mongolia this morning to attend the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Ulaanbaatar on July 15-16. The ASEM leaders would express their resolve to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

Sheikh Hasina will lead a 58-member delegation to Mongolia.

The minister further informed newsmen that Japan will host a special anti-terrorism event on the sidelines of the Meeting, for which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has invited his Bangladeshi counterpart to be the co-chair with him. “Our prime minister has accepted the invitation,” he said.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and senior foreign ministry officials were present at the press conference.

Diplomatic sources said the two premiers will hold a bilateral meeting. They are expected to pledge cooperation in implementing anti-terror measures and ensuring safety of Japanese nationals in Bangladesh.

Hasina may also hold bilateral meetings with leaders from Russia, the Netherlands and Switzerland. She is likely to have meetings with the European Council president, German chancellor, Myanmar president, Indian vice-president and Italian foreign minister, the sources added.

source:Daily star