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BD to stand beside KSA with military support if needed

PM leaves for Riyadh Saturday: Arab-Islamic-American Summit begins May 21

By Special Correspondent
19th-May-2017       
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Bangladesh will stand beside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia along with its military support to protect the two holy mosques -- Al Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina -- if needed.

"Bangladesh will send soldiers if there is any threat on Makkah and Medina. The government will take the stance considering the sentiments of the country's majority people and showing respect to the holy places," said Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Thursday.

The Foreign Minister was clarifying the stance of Bangladesh at a press briefing ahead of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's four-day visit to the KSA. The PM will leave Dhaka for Riyadh on Saturday to attend the Arab-Islamic-American Summit starting on May 21 where she is expected to put forward a number of proposals.

Significantly, the statement of Foreign Minister came at a time when there is a widespread speculation that Dhaka could join the "Arab-Islamic-American Alliance" [a military coalition].

Mahmood Ali, however, said that the 'coalition' has yet not turned into such a platform. "There are no written documents of such a military alliance. It is at a premature stage. It is still in the discussion stage."

Against this backdrop, the PM will visit KSA from May 20-23 at the invitation of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

 "The main objective of the summit is to establish new partnership to face the challenges of global terrorism and militancy, expand values of tolerance and coexistence and strengthen efforts for ensuring peace and stability," the Foreign Minister said.

According to the international media, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz had taken initiative to form an Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism and militancy while a centre would be established in Riyadh to coordinate the Saudi Arabia-led 34-state coalition.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir made a request to his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali to join the centre as a founding member.

However, Bangladesh rejected a US request to join its anti-Islamic State military campaign last year. Mahmood Ali had then said Bangladesh will join any UN-led humanitarian initiative in the region.Meanwhile, replying to a query, the Foreign Minister said journalists will not face any obstacle during their travel abroad and performing professional duties there. "But it is necessary to monitor whether anybody is doing anything while travelling abroad that goes against the country's image and interest," he said.

Elaborating the government's step, he further said monitoring is not only for journalists but also for all citizens and that is in the interest of the country.

The Bangladesh Missions abroad have been asked by authorities concerned to monitor Bangladeshi journalists travelling abroad to check their activities that might go against Bangladesh's interest and image. "I'm not aware of it. I will see it. The journalists will not face any obstacle. Inform me, if anybody faces any obstacles," the Minister assured.

According to a Foreign Ministry circular issued on Wednesday, the Foreign Missions will have to monitor the activities of the journalists and report back to Dhaka but it did not clarify the mechanism of surveillance. The External Publicity Wing of the Foreign Ministry sent the instruction to media.

A report carried by the Reuters said the Saudi announcement cited "a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations -- whatever their sect and name -- which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent."

Shia Muslim Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia's archrival for influence in the Arab world, was absent from the states named as participants, as proxy conflicts between the two regional powers rage from Syria to Yemen.
The probable participating countries in the alliance along with the KSA are: Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d'Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Yemen, Reuters added.

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