Never engaged in talks about taking over St Martin’s Island: US spokesperson


Diplomatic Correspondent :
The United States said that the claim made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that it asked for Saint Martin’s Island from Bangladesh government is inaccurate.
The United States never discussed the issue of taking over Saint Martin’s Island, said Mathew Miller, the spokesperson for the US Department of State during the regular press briefing in Washington DC on June 26.
During the press conference, Miller was inquired of “Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina alleged that the US wants to grab the small island of St. Martin. And main opposition BNP wants to sell it to the U.S. That’s why she will be ousted from the power.”
Responding to the question, he said, “I will just say that it is not accurate. We respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty, and we have never engaged in any conversations about taking over St. Martin’s Island.”
After the United States announced changes in its visa policy for Bangladesh, discussions about Saint Martin’s Island have been prevalent in the country’s politics for quite some time.
Rashed Khan Menon, the Chairman of the Workers Party of Bangladesh, a partner of the ruling Awami League-led coalition, made remarks regarding the island on June 14.
He stated in the National Parliament that those who are friends of the United States have no need for enemies. The United States recently imposed sanctions on Bangladesh, which had kept the country in its good graces for quite some time. Now, with the upcoming elections, they have announced changes in visa policy. This is not merely coincidental but rather a tactic of their “regime change” strategy. They desire Saint Martin’s Island and want to use Bangladesh as a pawn in the Quad (a strategic coalition led by the United States) game.
Apart from Menon, On June 20, another coalition partner of the Awami League government, the President of JASAD, Hasanul Haq Inu, spoke about Saint Martin’s Island in Parliament.
He stated that whenever America shows enthusiasm for the democracy of a country, the government or opposition parties of that country suffer more hardships than the people themselves.
Inu further said, “The time has come for us to think: Why this sudden enthusiasm from America? Is it about democracy or Saint Martin’s Island?”
On June 21, during a press conference at Ganabhaban regarding her trips to Switzerland and Qatar, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also addressed the issue of Saint Martin’s Island.
In response to a question, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stated that there would be no problem if someone leases the island, but it would not be done by her.
Without mentioning the name of any specific country in this context, she stated, “In 2001, the BNP came to power, how? They came to power by selling off gas reserves. So now, do they want to sell the country or use the tactic of selling off Saint Martin’s Island?”
The Prime Minister further stated, “I can say this much, I am the daughter of the nation’s father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I do not want any assets of this country to be sold to anyone by me. If I had given away the gas reserves, I could have remained in power. And if I now say that I will lease off that Saint Martin’s Island or our country, there would be no problem in me staying in power. I know that. But it will not be done by me.”
Reacting to such comments, on June 22, the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, during a press conference at Gulshan, stated that the statements made by the Prime Minister regarding Saint Martin’s Island are part of her political tactics. He further mentioned that ruling party wants to take advantage of such statements.
Meanwhile, during the Washington Press Conference, Miller talked about the bilateral relations between the two countries.
“We value our partnership with Bangladesh. We strive to bolster our relationship by working together to promote democracy, including by supporting free and fair elections,” he reiterated.
Apart from this, the US spokesperson was also drawn attention to the remarks of State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam who recently reacted to the letter of six congressmen calling as enemy to Bangladesh.