Bangladesh's Deputy FM cancels India visit

Bangladesh's Deputy FM cancels India visit

Bangladesh's deputy minister of foreign affairs Shahriar Alam. (Credit: AFP)

Bangladesh's Deputy Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam has cancelled his visit to India to speak at an event in New Delhi as it coincided with the country's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's UAE trip, the foreign office here said on Saturday, rejecting as "misleading" some media reports citing other reasons for cancellation of the visit.

Bangladesh's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Alam was invited to speak at the Indian External Affairs Ministry-backed Raisina Dialogue to be held from January 14-16.

The annual dialogue offers a platform for discussion on global issues and is attended by foreign ministers, diplomats and experts.

"The (Bangladesh foreign) Ministry would like to convey that State Minister Md Shahriar Alam was invited as a speaker at the Raisina Dialogue which coincides with his visit to UAE to accompany the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina," the foreign ministry said

"As such State Minister Alam could not avail the participation," it said in a statement.

Dhaka has sent a regret letter to Overseas Research Foundation (ORF), the organiser of the event in collaboration with India's Ministry of External Affairs, it said.

"It may be noted that there was no bilateral engagement scheduled during the (Delhi) visit. The inability of his participation has no other connection," the statement said.

The foreign ministry described as "misleading" some media reports in India citing other reasons for Alam's non-participation.

The cancellation of Alam's visit comes just a month after two Bangladeshi ministers - Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan - cancelled their scheduled trips to India.

Momen was scheduled to join the ministerial keynote session of Delhi Dialogue and Indian Ocean Dialogue in December and was to meet his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar.

The cancellation came a day after Momen termed as "untrue" Home Minister Amit Shah's comments on the persecution of religious minorities in Bangladesh.

Both Bangladesh and India at that time, however, maintained that the visit was called off as Momen had to take part in two important national events.

Home Minister Khan also cancelled his private visit to Meghalaya reportedly due to disturbances over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, following religious persecution there will get Indian citizenship.

Bangladesh was also learnt to have been upset following the rollout of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam around four months ago even though India conveyed to it that the issue was an internal matter of the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had taken up the issue of NRC with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their bilateral meeting in New York in September.

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