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Bangladesh`s Hasina to skip UN General Assembly meeting

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 13:46

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has decided not to attend the upcoming UN General Assembly session in New York, reportedly over the country`s ongoing political crisis and failure to secure a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

The media reports here quoting the ruling Awami League insiders said the premier preferred to stay at home due to the country`s ongoing political uncertainty over the elections and the next Parliament session beginning Thursday.

However, diplomatic sources told The Daily Star newspaper that the decision of not going to the US is largely the result of a failure to arrange a bilateral meeting with Obama.

Foreign Ministry`s director general on UN affairs Sadia Muna did not comment on the change of the plan but said the 68th UNGA session was important for Dhaka as it would discuss issues of UN`s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in a crucial meeting on the sidelines where Hasina was specially invited in view of Bangladesh`s outstanding achievements in this regard.

But several leaders of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said the premier scrapped the planned visit to evade intensified international pressures to reach a consensus with her archrival Khaleda Zia on electoral system to end the current political impasse.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Hasina and Zia to end the current political deadlock over electoral system through a constructive dialogue two weeks after UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon called up the two leaders in an identical move while the global body earlier warned the two parties about possible military interventions unless they could reach a consensus.

The diplomatic sources also said Dhaka`s relations with Washington had lost some glow mainly over the government`s harsh treatment of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, Dhaka`s poor handling of some human rights concerns while the incumbent government also visibly cold shouldered some of the US officials during their visits to Bangladesh.

The reports said Hasina did not find time to meet the visiting US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O Blake in December 2012 while the US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena also did not get an appointment to call on the premier for a long time.

Relations with the US faced a serious setback after the Obama administration on June 27, 2013 suspended GSP privilege for not taking steps to afford internationally recognised worker rights to employees, especially engaged in the Garments Industry.

As per her earlier tour schedule, Hasina was to reach New York on September 23 and was to hold meetings with Ban and Kerry alongside bilateral talks with several world leaders.

The 68th session of the UN General Assembly starts on September 17.


First Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 13:46
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