Kerry in Bangladesh for anti-mil­i­tant talks

The Myanmar Times - - World -

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry held talks with Bangladesh’s Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina on com­bat­ting ex­trem­ism yes­ter­day as po­lice killed mem­bers of an Is­lamist group blamed for a deadly cafe siege.

Af­ter weekend talks in Geneva on Syria, Mr Kerry ar­rived in the cap­i­tal Dhaka for his first of­fi­cial visit to deepen co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries in­clud­ing on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and hu­man rights.

But the one-day trip is ex­pected to fo­cus on mount­ing con­cerns of Is­lamist vi­o­lence in the im­pov­er­ished na­tion, af­ter gun­men last month at­tacked an up­scale cafe in Dhaka and killed 22 peo­ple, mainly for­eign­ers.

“Let me say what a great plea­sure it is to be with the prime min­is­ter and to be here in Bangladesh,” Mr Kerry said of his meet­ing with Ms Hasina and other top of­fi­cials.

Just hours be­fore Mr Kerry’s ar­rival, Bangladesh po­lice shot dead two sus­pected mem­bers of the Ja­mayetul Mu­jahideen Bangladesh (JMB) blamed for the cafe siege.

The sus­pected mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing a re­gional JMB com­man­der, were killed dur­ing a gun­bat­tle in the north­ern town of Sher­pur town.

The shoot­ings came just two days af­ter po­lice killed the sus­pected mas­ter­mind of the cafe at­tack out­side Dhaka. Po­lice named the sus­pect as JMB leader Tamim Chowd­hury, a Bangladeshi-born Cana­dian.

Talks be­tween the two coun­tries have in­ten­si­fied in re­cent months, with the US en­gag­ing with Bangladesh po­lice and the mil­i­tary charged with tack­ling ex­trem­ists.

Bangladesh has been reel­ing from a se­ries of at­tacks in the past three years, in­clud­ing on for­eign­ers, rights ac­tivists and reli­gious mi­nori­ties.

Mr Kerry is due to meet with civic lead­ers as well as em­bat­tled Bangladesh op­po­si­tion leader Khaleda Zia, a bit­ter ri­val of Hasina. –

Photo: AFP

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry (left) shakes hand with Bangladesh coun­ter­part Mah­mood Ali as US am­bas­sador to Bangladesh Mar­cia Ber­ni­cat (sec­ond right) looks on at Dhaka air­port yes­ter­day.

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