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US-Russia exchange biting words over Bangladesh politics

Staff Reporter:

The United States and Russia have visibly exchanged biting words over Bangladesh with US State Department yesterday accusing Moscow of purposely misinterpreting Washington’s foreign policy regarding Bangladesh’s upcoming elections.
A US statement department spokesman alleged that Kremlin on November 22 delivered a state-ment which was a “deliberate mischaracterization” by saying US ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas discussed plans to organize mass anti-government process holding a meeting with a Bangladeshi opposition leader.
“We are aware of (Maria) Zakharova’s deliberate mischaracterization of US foreign policy and Am-bassador Haas’s meetings,” said a State Department spokesperson in Washington according to the US embassy in Dhaka.
The State Department official said the US wants to see free and fair election conducted in a peace-ful manner in line with the aspiration of the people of Bangladesh.
“To support that shared goal of free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner, US Embas-sy personnel engage and will continue to engage with the government, opposition, civil society, and other stakeholders to urge them to work together for the benefit of the Bangladeshi people,” he said.
“The United States does not support any political party in Bangladesh. Nor does the United States favor one political party over another,” the US official said.
During the weekly briefing in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova claimed that the US envoy in Dhaka held a meeting with a Bangladeshi opposition leader and dis-cussed plans to organize mass anti-government process.
But the US State Department response came hours after Russian embassy in Dhaka updated its website detailing Zakharova’s Nov 22 comments in Moscow.
“Information has come to light regarding a meeting at the end of October between US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and a high-ranking representative of the local opposition,” Zakharova told the briefing.
She added: “They (Haas and the opposition leader) reportedly discussed plans to organise mass an-ti-government protests in the country during the meeting.”
Zakharova also claimed that the US ambassador “promised his interlocutor to provide information support in the event that the authorities used force against participants in “peaceful demonstra-tions”.
According to the Russian foreign ministry official these assurances were purportedly made on be-half of the embassies of the United States, Britain, Australia and several other countries.
The Russian spokeswomen said the action of US ambassador in Dhaka can be seen as nothing less than gross interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state on the part of “Washington and its satellites”.
Zakharova commented that the US act demonstrated open disregard for the norms and rules en-shrined in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
“(But) on our (Russia’s) part, we have not doubts regarding the ability of the Bangladeshi authori-ties to hold the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 7, 2024, in full compliance with na-tional legislation, independently, without the help of overseas well-wishers,” she said.
Zakharova said Moscow have spoken repeatedly about the attempts by the United States and its allies to influence internal political processes in Bangladesh, ostensibly under the banner of ensur-ing “transparency and inclusiveness” in the upcoming parliamentary elections there.

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