Hasina to discuss terrorism with world leaders at ASEM meet

Dhaka: Chastened by recent terror attacks, Bangladesh has decided to hold extensive talks with foreign countries to combat extremism and terrorism. As part of this initiative, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina plans to hold bilateral interactions with leaders on the sidelines of the 11th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Mongolia to attend which she leaves here on Thursday. Hasina will hold meetings with more than 10 heads of state or government, the Dhaka Tribune reported. She will be meeting, among others, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.  She will also hold talks with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Ulaanbaatar, where the summit will be held on July 15 and 16. "We want to share our thoughts and listen to what other countries are thinking to combat violent extremism and terrorism at the top level," said a senior government official. "Brexit and other global issues are also expected to be discussed in the meetings," the Dhaka Tribune cited the official as saying. A terror siege at a cafe in the Gulshan diplomatic enclave of Dhaka on July 1 claimed the lives of 22 people, including 18 foreigners and two policemen. Less than a week later, another terror attack -- at the Sholakia Eid gathering in Kishoreganj -- claimed the lives of four people, including two policemen, as hundreds of thousands gathered for Eid prayers at the country's largest congregation. A press release of the Japanese foreign ministry said the Prime Ministers of Japan and Italy have agreed to take up counter-terrorism measures as an important agenda at the summit. "The ASEM would issue a clear message for the international community that terrorism could never be tolerated," the press release said. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said: "Connectivity and terrorism would dominate the ASEM discussion." This year ASEM will celebrate its 20th anniversary and the theme of the 2016 summit is '20 Years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity’. According to the ASEM website, 34 heads of state or government have confirmed their participation. Another government official said that in addition to adopting the ‘Ulaanbaatar Declaration’, the summit is expected to adopt a separate document condemning terrorism.