Saturday, 23 September, 2023

‘People’s welfare, country’s betterment first priority’

Says FM when asked about GSOMIA, ACSA with US

Dhaka - Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday reiterated that people's right to food and shelter and their welfare remain the number one priority of the government, not luxury.

“Our number one priority is to ensure people’s welfare and betterment of the country. Right to food and right to shelter – these are our priority human rights. Food security is our priority. I do not think we sign any agreement where luxury is involved,” he said.

The Foreign Minister made the remarks as a journalist wanted to know about the government's position regarding the 'General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)' and the 'Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA)'.

These two are "essential" to enabling a closer defence relationship, expanding opportunities for defence trade, information sharing, and military-to-military cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister exchanged views with the experts from various fields including foreign affairs experts, university professors, security analysts and senior journalists at the Foreign Service Academy.

“It is nothing new. We do such dialogue regularly,” Momen said after the lengthy meeting with the experts that lasted for over two hours.

Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said they will be very happy if the US helps Bangladesh to strengthen its fight against corruption.

“We will be very happy if they freeze the money if anyone takes it from Bangladesh through corruption. We will welcome it."

Earlier, the US encouraged Bangladesh to “root out corrupt actors,” operating within its borders “fairly and impartially.”

“Generally speaking, sanctions can be a tool to fight corruption,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters in a regular briefing in Washington on August 8.

He said that they have other tools as well, such as freezing assets and giving partner nations information so they can prosecute cases.

The US Department of State’s Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption, Richard Nephew, echoed the same regarding sanctions to address corruption during his Bangladesh visit on August 6-8.

During his visit, Nephew met government officials, businesspersons, and civil society leaders to discuss how to fight the scourge of corruption.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, after his meeting with Nephew, said that Bangladesh laid emphasis on more transparency and accountability over issues involving money laundering, noting that in most cases Bangladesh does not get required feedback when it comes to mutual legal assistance.

Asaduzzaman Noor, MP, former diplomats  Farooq Sobhan, Tariq A Karim, Waliur Rahman, Shamsher M Chowdhury Bir Bikrom, Abdul Hannan, former Chairman, National. Human Rights Commission Bangladesh Prof Dr Mizanur Rahman, Brigadier General (Retd) M Sakhawat Hossain, Maj Gen (Retd) Abdur Rashid, Prof Abdul Mannan, former Supreme Court Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik, DU Prof Dr Delwar Hossain, Prof Dr Lailufar Yasmin, Prof Shahab Enam Khan, Dr Rashid Askari, Prof Dr Mamun-Al-Mahtab (Shwapnil),Dr Miltan Biswas, journalists Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Nayeemul Islam Khan, Swadesh Roy and Rahul Raha, among others, were present.