Economic diplomacy to get prominence in foreign relations: Momen

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By Tanzim Anwar

DHAKA, Jan 7, 2019 (BSS) – New Foreign Minister Dr Abdulkalam Abdul Momen
today said his office would focus on economic diplomacy for realizing Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visions to upgrade Bangladesh to higher middle
income country by 2021 and achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.

“My main focus will be enhancing economic diplomacy,” he told BSS as the
Awami League government was installed to power for the third consecutive term
with the swearing in of the new council of ministers under Sheikh Hasina’s
premiership.

Momen, an economist by background, said he would engage the foreign office
to do its part effectively to implement and expedite Sheikh Hasina’s visions
particularly her target to elevate the country’s status as a higher middle
income by 2021.

He said development goals like the Delta Plan 2100 would be the priority
issues of his ministry as well as part of the government aspiration to make
the country Sonar Bangla (golden Bangladesh) in real terms as dreamt by
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Momen said intense relations with neighbours like India and China would
remain as a major policy while he would try to cultivate more effective ties
with all major foreign nations like the US, UK and France keeping intact
Bangladesh’s integrity.

“In no time in the recent history our relations with India was so good, we
will maintain it and rather take it to further,” said Momen, who previously
served as Bangladesh’s permanent envoy to the United Nations with concurrent
accreditation to South American republics of Chile and Peru.

Simultaneously, he said, Dhaka would try to reap benefits of its ties with
China as it offered a huge amount as credit for Bangladesh’s development.

Momen identified the Rohingya crisis as a major challenge while he
preferred to call it an “economic issue” but feared it could affect the
regional stability unless addressed through a consorted effort all.

“The issue needs to be solved as immediate as possible, otherwise it would
affect stability of the entire region,” he said.

Momen, younger brother of outgoing Finance Minister AMA Muhith, was elected
as a lawmaker from Sylhet 1 constituency in the December 30 national
election.

Momen received PhD in economics and as well as MBA degree in business
administration from the Northeastern University in Boston. He has also MPA in
public administration, public policy and international economics from the
Harvard University (Cambridge), LLB, MA in development economics and BA
(Honors) from Dhaka University.

Momen taught economics and business administration at Merrimack College,
Salem State College, Northeastern University, the University of
Massachusetts, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

He served as President of the UNICEF Executive Board at the international
level in 2010. He was Vice President and Acting President of the 67th United
Nations General Assembly.

Momen was President of the United Nations High-Level Committee on South-
South Cooperation in 2014.