A notable five-member cross-party parliamentary delegation from the United Kingdom is undertaking a significant visit to engage in discussions on mutual interests with Bangladesh’s leadership.
The delegation, led by Paul Scully MP, the former Conservative Minister for Tech and Digital Economy, is set to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gonobhaban on January 28. Prior to this, the members are scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud at the State guesthouse Padma on January 27.
This parliamentary visit marks the first since Bangladesh’s general elections earlier this month, according to the Bangladesh High Commission in London.
The delegation includes three Labour MPs: Virendra Sharma MP, Vice Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bangladesh and Chair of APPG on Indo-British; Neil Coyle MP, Member of UK House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs; Andrew Western MP, Opposition Whip at the House of Commons. Dominic Moffitt, Senior Parliamentary Assistant at the House of Commons, is also part of the team. The delegation is accompanied by Zillur Hussain MBE, Advisor for The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, and Strategic Adviser for CWEIC, along with Dr. Ivelina Banyalieva, CEO of Connect.
The visit includes paying respects to the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at his Mausoleum in Tungipara. This marks the first time a British parliamentary delegation is visiting the Bangabandhu Mausoleum.
During their stay, the delegation is scheduled to meet State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam to discuss avenues for strengthening Bangladesh-UK trade, economic collaboration, and the Indo-Pacific partnership. Additionally, they will engage with business leaders in Bangladesh and visit a green apparel factory.
The delegation will extend their visit to Sylhet, where they will explore leading charities established by British-Bangladeshis in the UK. On January 30, the members will visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, reaffirming their support for Bangladesh’s hosting of persecuted Rohingyas and contributing to the resolution of the protracted Rohingya crisis.
The Bangladesh High Commission in London has coordinated this visit with the British Parliamentarians and the Commonwealth business delegation by Connect. The delegation is set to depart for London on January 31.
US Advocates for Palestinian Access to Al-Aqsa
On Wednesday, the United States called on Israel to permit Muslims to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan. This plea comes in response to a proposal by a far-right minister suggesting the exclusion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank from praying at the site.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller addressed reporters, stating, “As it pertains to Al-Aqsa, we continue to urge Israel to facilitate access to Temple Mount for peaceful worshippers during Ramadan consistent with past practice.” The statement emphasizes the importance of maintaining historical practices that have allowed peaceful worship during the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount.
Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests
The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.
This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.
Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.
Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.
Saudi Imposes Tk15 lakh Fine for Unauthorized Hajj Performances
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has declared a fine of SR50,000 (equivalent to Tk15 lakh) for individuals, whether tourists or local residents, who perform Hajj without official permission. According to Gulf News, the ministry emphasized the illegality of undertaking Hajj without the necessary approvals. Additionally, hefty fines of up to Tk15 lakh will be imposed on those found transporting Hajj pilgrims without the required documents.
Furthermore, the ministry outlined severe consequences for foreigners involved in such violations, including a six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation from Saudi Arabia. Those deported will also face a 10-year ban on reentering the country. This stringent announcement aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Hajj process and deter any potential breaches of laws and regulations.
The penalties will be enforced through collaboration between the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports.
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