Ties with US to stay unhurt
Dhaka-Washington relations will not be affected by the position of a “personality”, as the ties between the two countries are based on partnership and marked by common values, global position on international issues and institutional links, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes has said.
“I think values and institutions are more important than a personal matter. Our relations of partnership are deepened, and advancing. It'll be inconsistent if our relation is affected by one's position,” he said at a regular press briefing at the foreign ministry yesterday.
He made the remark when asked to give his views on US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake's statement during his recent visit to Dhaka that the issue of Prof Muhammad Yunus will affect bilateral relations.
“I don't like to say anything on his comments. It would have been nice if you could ask him to elaborate his comments,” Quayes told journalists.
The foreign secretary categorically said the court will settle the issue since Prof Yunus has gone to court to seek redress.
Asked whether US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Dhaka will depend on the issue of Prof Yunus, Quayes said high-level visits would take place if the relation of partnership has any value.
Replying to a question whether he thinks Blake's remarks about the Bangladesh Bank's order to remove Prof Yunus from Grameen Bank are tantamount to interfering in Bangladesh's internal matter, Quayes said if you had asked the question to Robert Blake, he must have carried it to Washington.
In reply to another question, he said the foreign ministry is in constant touch with the US government through its embassy in Washington, but all discussions on bilateral issues cannot be disclosed.
BLAKE TALKS WITH
Meanwhile, in an interview with ATN News aired yesterday, Blake said that the US is concerned that the Grameen Bank matter perhaps foreshadows a more widespread limitation on civil society and on NGOs.
Speaking about Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, he said that several people have expressed concern about that. "And obviously, that would have an impact on our relations, because we do see Bangladesh as a bit of a model in this respect.”
"So we don't just see it narrowly in terms of Muhammad Yunus. This is about Grameen Bank and its integrity, and the continued independence and vigour of civil society here in Bangladesh," Blake noted.
He added that the US is interested in ensuring the future integrity and effectiveness of Grameen Bank, and ensuring that it will have leadership that will ensure that integrity and effectiveness.
"I think Professor Yunus is concerned right now that there isn't that leadership there. He himself is not confident about the future of Grameen Bank. We very much respect his view, and I think we understand that many of Grameen Bank's shareholders share his view," the State Department official said.
Asked about Grameen Bank's future leadership, he said: “I think there are many, many qualified candidates out there who would do an outstanding job. But it's not for the United States to say who those might be. Again, we hope that can be done in a very collaborative manner to ensure the outcome that I described."