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US Asstnt Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal in Bangladesh: terrorism and intolerance on top agenda

Bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism and extremism were discussed on day one

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal addresses a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, April 3, 2014. AFP

https://youtu.be/TT3JlLp8pOE

Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 5,2016:

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal said she discussed bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism and extremism during a meeting with Bangladesh’s foreign minister and other senior officials in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The meeting on the first day of a three-day visit by Biswal took place amid mounting American pressure on Bangladesh to stop a wave of machete killings by suspected Islamic extremists and to thoroughly investigate killings of secular bloggers and activists dating to last year.

“Important talks with FM Ali, State Minister Alam, & FS Haque on US-#Bangladesh partnership and combating terrorism and extremism,” Biswal said in a message posted on Twitter.

Biswal, the assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asian Affairs, arrived in the Bangladeshi capital nine days after two Bangladeshi gay rights activists, including a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) worker, were slain together in a machete-attack by suspected militants.

Later on Wednesday, Biswal said she met with staff at the U.S. embassy and USAID to share memories of Xulhaz Mannan, the aid worker who was killed at this Dhaka apartment on April 25 alongside K. Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, a theater actor.

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Both men were gay rights activists and Mannan was the editor of Bangladesh’s first magazine devoted to the coverage of LGBT issues in the country.

“#XulhazMannan embodied courage and selflessness and his legacy will live on in causes he championed,” Biswal tweeted on Wednesday.

Three other people – an English professor, a secular blogger and a Hindu tailor – were killed in separate machete attacks last month that marked an escalation in killings at the hands of suspected extremists in Bangladesh. Last year, militants hacked to death five writers and intellectuals, including Bangladeshi-American secular blogger Avijit Roy.

Closed-door meeting

After landing in Dhaka, Biswal went to a state guest house where she met behind closed doors for at least two hours with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali and other senior officials from the ministry.

In Dhaka, Madrasa students carrying out a rally. Wikimedia Commons
In Dhaka, Madrasa students carrying out a rally. Wikimedia Commons

At around 11:30 a.m., the foreign minister and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam left the building without talking to journalists.

Biswal was scheduled to meet on Thursday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal. During her visit she was also expected to meet with local human rights and civil society groups.

The senior American diplomat arrived in Bangladesh six days after her boss, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, called Hasina to offer U.S. support for the investigation into the killing of Mannan and Tonoy, according to officials at state.

“The Secretary also condemned other incidents in a recent spate of violence,” according to a statement issued last week by the State Department.

“The Secretary urged Prime Minister Hasina to ensure a thorough investigation of all of these incidents, and to redouble law enforcement efforts to prevent future attacks and protect those who are at risk,” the statement added. (Benar News)

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Vietnam Offering Support to Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned

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Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

United Nations World Food Programme in Bangladesh said it welcomed a new contribution of $50,000 from Vietnam to support operations in Coxs Bazar – home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“We are very grateful to Vietnam for stepping up to assist people living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director, in a statement.

“This remains a serious humanitarian emergency, and continued support from the international community is vital if we are to keep providing the humanitarian assistance that is so badly needed.”

Vietnam’s new aid was announced by the Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Quoc Dzung, during a visit to Bangladesh, according to WPF.

“Although this is a modest contribution, we are hopeful that our support will advance the response to this crisis situation,” he said.

Rohingya, india
Rohingya women and children are seen at a temporary shelter in the Kalindi Kunj area of New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018. VOA

Vietnam joins dozens of other states who have pledged their support to the Cox’s Bazar response since the August 2017 refugee influx, said WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 870,000 refugees per month at the sprawling refugee settlement.

The UN agency also provides nutritional and livelihood support to the host community at Cox’s Bazaar, with the aim of helping the most vulnerable, WFP said.

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Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence by Myanmar’s military in Northern Rakhine State. Thousands of other Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during previous periods of repression in Myanmar. (IANS)