HPM Sheikh Hasina to attend summit in Saudi Arab


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accepted the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to a summit to be attended by US President Donald Trump and other world leaders in Riyadh on May 21.

The Gulf News online in a report said invitations were being sent to the leaders of the Saudi-led Islamic coalition members to participate in the Arab, Islamic and United States summit.

Bangladesh is one of the founding members of the 41-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), which was floated by Saudi Arabia in December 2015.

Saudi Arabian Culture and Information Minister Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad, who visited Dhaka recently, handed the invitation letter to Hasina at the Gono Bhaban on Wednesday.

Officials said the PM would depart for Riyadh on May 20, but the itinerary of her tour was yet to be finalised.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), invitations were sent to the presidents of Algeria, Yemen, Turkey, Iraq, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, the premiers of Bangladesh and Pakistan and the kings of Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan.

The Arab-Islamic-American Summit will be among a series of talks expected to be held in Riyadh on May 20-21. The summit would cover a range of issues, including counter-terrorism and violent extremism.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Riyadh said the Bangladesh PM's participation in the summit carries a special significance. The summit will be a big opportunity for the premier to meet President Trump and some leaders of Muslim-majority countries.

The PM might hold meetings with the Saudi king and other policymakers to discuss, among other issues, the upcoming meeting of defence ministers of the Saudi-led military alliance, added the sources.

The defence ministers will gather in Riyadh to agree on the alliance's structure and mission.

Quoting the Saudi Defence Minister's Adviser Major General Ahmed Asiri, a recent report of the Wall Street Journal said the coalition force could move against rebel groups and militias that pose threats to member countries. Besides, the alliance would act against international militant outfits such as Daesh and al Qaeda.

According to diplomatic sources, Dhaka has conveyed its position to Riyadh that Bangladesh will not take part in the field-level military campaign by the KSA-led alliance against militant group IS and any other country, like Iran.

Dhaka said it can only deploy manpower for research, study and sharing investigation information for the alliance.

However, Riyadh wants Dhaka's collaboration in removing mines from the Saudi territory, protection of its boundary and participation in building defence infrastructure.

The Gulf News report said the Islamic-US summit was expected to address the issue of “hatred” and President Trump would most likely use the occasion to directly reassure Muslims that his country didn't oppose Islam or Muslims.

On May 4, Trump announced that he would travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel this month, where he would work to reinvigorate traditional alliances in the region.

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