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How Bangladesh got dragged into the UK-Russia spy poisoning row

  • Published at 02:52 pm April 5th, 2018
  • Last updated at 01:20 am April 6th, 2018
How Bangladesh got dragged into the UK-Russia spy poisoning row
The chemical poisoning of a former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter in the UK has triggered one of the worst crises in East-West relations since the end of the cold war. Although Bangladesh has no direct involvement in this episode, it has been discussed by Dhaka at the foreign minister level with Moscow, Washington and London. Bangladesh’s interest in the poisoning row is further enhanced by Sheikh Mohammed Belal, the country’s ambassador to Netherlands, being the chairperson of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) executive council. An emergency meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday rejected Moscow’s bid for a joint investigation into the March 4 nerve agent poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Russia had called the meeting to counter accusations by Britain that it was behind the incident in Salisbury, 90 miles southwest of London. But Russia’s proposal was outvoted 15-6. As the meeting was underway in the Netherlands, Joel Reifman, the chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy in Dhaka, met Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque to discuss the matter. Reifman told journalists that they talked about OPCW and were worried over activities of Russia which had violated all international law. Reifman said they had informed Bangladeshi officials about their concerns and would talk about it again. Russia handed over a note to Bangladesh on March 22 explaining its position on the spy poisoning incident. The UK, meanwhile, informed Bangladesh in detail about the incident several days after it had taken place, as it tried to build international support for retaliatory measures against Russia. The British High Commissioner to Dhaka, Alison Blake, met Bangladesh’s foreign secretary at least twice over the matter, on March 29 and again on April 2. A bilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Bangladesh and Russia in Moscow on Monday also discussed the OPCW investigation into the poisoning.  

This article was first published on banglatribune.com

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