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SRI LANKA TO REMAIN BESIDE BANGLADESH IN RESOLVING ROHINGYA CRISIS: MOMEN

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Foreign minister A K Abdul Momen on Friday said the visiting Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa assured that Colombo would cast its vote for Bangladesh in next membership election to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“He (Rajapaksa) said, definitely they will vote for us in the UNHCR election,” Momen told reporters after calling on Sri Lankan prime minister in the capital.

Currently, Bangladesh is a member of the UNHCR for the 2019-21 tenure while Dhaka would like to run again for the membership election for the next three-year period, he said.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

During the meeting, Bangladesh foreign minister briefed the Sri Lankan prime minister about the current situation of Rohingya crisis and sought Colombo’s proactive support in this regard as a friendly nation of Myanmar.

Momen said, he urged Rajapaksa to discuss the Rohingya issue with Myanmar authority.

In reply, he said, the Sri Lankan prime minister termed the Rohingya crisis as a serious issue and assured that his country would remain beside Bangladesh in resolving the crisis.

The foreign minister also requested the Sri Lankan prime minister regarding implementation of some agreements signed between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka earlier.

Momen expressed his gratitude to Rajapaksa for visiting Bangladesh to join the celebration progrmme amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Later, a foreign ministry’s press release added that Bangladesh also seek Sri Lankan support in its election as the regional director of WHO’s South East Asia Regional Office-SEARO in 2023.

Besides, issues related to connectivity, maritime shipping line, signing of Preferential Trade Agreement and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, and export of Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals to Sri Lanka were discussed, said the release.

The Sri Lankan prime minister highly lauded the farsighted leadership of Sheikh Hasina in tackling Covid-19 pandemic as well as in advancing Bangladesh’s economy.

State minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam and foreign secretary Masud bin Momen were also present.

The Sri Lankan prime minister arrived Dhaka on Friday morning on a two-day official visit to join the twin celebrations of birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.

He is schedule to hold high-level bilateral meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday.

Several Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) are likely to be signed between the two countries in presence of the two heads of the governments.