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Swiss president reassures Dhaka of ‘strong support’ over Rohingyas

  • Published at 12:23 am October 20th, 2018
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Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali among European leaders at the ASEM leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium on Friday, October 19, 2018 REUTERS

A foreign ministry statement issued on Friday said Berset simultaneously conveyed his sincere thankfulness to Bangladesh in providing the refuge to the huge number of forcibly displaced people of Myanmar on humanitarian grounds

Swiss President Alain Berset has reassured Dhaka of “strong support” over the Rohingya crisis as Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali met him on the sidelines of 12th ASEM Summit in Brussels.

A foreign ministry statement issued on Friday said Berset simultaneously conveyed his sincere thankfulness to Bangladesh in providing the refuge to the huge number of forcibly displaced people of Myanmar on humanitarian grounds.

“President Alain Berset further said that he couldn’t be more thankful for what Bangladesh has done hosting the Rohingyas, including sincere efforts to find a stable and peaceful resolution of the crisis,” the statement read.

Mahmood Ali called on the Swiss president on Friday on the sidelines of the ASEM Summit at the European Union Headquarters.

During the meeting, Alain Berset also thanked the Foreign Minister for his very successful visit to Bangladesh on February 4-7, 2018, first ever by any Swiss President since establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1972, when he met with President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury. During his visit the Swiss president paid a visit to the Rohingya camps and one hospital supported by Switzerland in Cox’s Bazar.

Mentioning his brief meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the recently concluded UN General Assembly held in New York, Alain expressed deep satisfaction about the ongoing excellent bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Switzerland.

Foreign Minister Ali thanked the Swiss President for full support in the Rohingya crisis and expressed hope that Bangladesh and Switzerland will remain committed to further strengthen the existing excellent relations both bilaterally and also at multilateral foras.

Besides, meeting President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset, FM Mahmood Ali also met the Maltese Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela and Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs Ambassador Anna Paula Zacarias on Thursday on the sidelines of 12th ASEM Summit.

At the meeting Maltese Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela conveyed that Malta is keen to have more engagements with Bangladesh, as both sides ‘need to foster good cooperation’ to take the relationship to higher level. He further referred to the pending bilateral instruments i.e., MoUs on Political Consultations and Collaboration between respective Foreign Service training institutes. The Maltese Foreign Minister reiterated his invitation to Foreign Minister Ali to visit Malta and sign those instruments. He also sought Bangladesh’s support for Maltese candidature for the non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council for the term 2023-2024.

Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali recalled his earlier visit to Malta in November 2015, as Head of Bangladesh Delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit and assured to undertake the pending official bilateral visit at the earliest opportunity. He further assured to give due consideration to the Maltese request for supporting their candidature for the UN Security Council non-permanent seat.

Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs Ambassador Anna Paula Zacarias recalled ‘500 years of historic’ relations between Bangladesh and Portugal when she called on the Bangladesh Foreign Minister. Portuguese Secretary of State expressed keen interest about strengthening bilateral cooperation in oceans affairs, climate change and renewable energy. She also conveyed Portuguese interest about enhanced cooperation in the multilateral foras. 

Referring to some 3,500 ‘well loved and respected’ Bangladeshi migrants living in Portugal, Ambassador Zacarias emphasized on continued cooperation between countries to remain ‘open’ for ‘migration’. She also expressed high optimism about Portugal hosting the first-ever Political Consultations at the Senior Officials level, to be held next month in Lisbon, to discuss issues of mutual interest with a view to further deepen and broaden bilateral relations to its full potential. Citing potential adverse impact of sea-level rise on the people living across low-lying southern-cost of Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Ali agreed with the Portuguese Secretary of State to remain engaged on such critical global issues both bilaterally and at different multilateral foras. Accepting a renewed invitation to visit Lisbon, Minister Ali assured to undertake the same soon.

Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali also attended the opening ceremony of 12th ASEM Summit in the evening, where more than 45 heads of states and governments, and a few foreign ministers including him, are leading respective country delegations.