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Bangla Minister's visit cancellation, CAB not linked: MEA


Bangladesh forein minister Abdul Momen


New Delhi: As Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen cancelled his visit to India, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that linking the cancellation of the visit to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is "unwarranted".

The cancellation of Momen came amid violent protests in the North-East over the CAB and heated debate in Parliament about the condition of minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan during the passage of the Bill.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said linking the cancellation of Bangladesh Foreign Minister's visit to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is "unwarranted".

"I think we need to delink the visit... it is related to his scheduling. You have to accept what Bangladesh foreign minister is saying," Kumar said.

"We know the visit has been cancelled. I understand the Foreign Minister has given an explanation. Our relations are strong, like our two leaders have repeatedly said, and I don't think this cancellation will have any effect," Kumar said.

He said Momen cancelled his trip due to increasing demands at home. Reading out a message from Bangladesh Foreign Minister to the Indian side, Kumar said his trip was cancelled due to two important national events -- observance of Martyrs Day on December 14 and Victory Day on December 16.

Momen a day ago had said the CAB could weaken India's character as a secular nation. He had also rejected the allegations that the minorities are facing religious persecution in his country.

Over this, Kumar said: "There is some confusion. We have explained that religious persecution is not happening under the present government. The migrants were repressed during the military rule and the previous governments in Bangladesh, as explained by Home Minister".

"We have acknowledged that the present (Bangladesh) government has taken substantial steps to address concerns of minorities as per their constitutional provisions and laws of their country."

Momen was to visit India from December 12 to 14 to attend the Indian Ocean Dialogue and was scheduled to hold meetings with Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.

Kumar said: "Our relation with Bangladesh is very strong. Leaders of the two countries have been saying that relationship is cordial and good. In fact in the last few years, our relationship has developed."

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