US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed Grameen Bank’s independence in a telephone call to Prof Muhammad Yunus, her spokesman said.
“Secretary Clinton spoke yesterday with Dr Muhammad Yunus and expressed support for the independence of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh,” Clinton spokesman Philip Crowley said on the microblogging website Twitter.
Hillary ended up making the telephone call Tuesday to Prof Yunus after he canceled a scheduled trip to Washington because of the legal challenge he filed in Bangladeshi courts, Crowley said earlier, AFP reports.
However, the state department officials gave no details on what was said during the call, news agency AP said.
“We continue to follow developments closely and await clarification from the government of Bangladesh and Grameen Bank,” Crowley told reporters at a briefing.
“We hope that a mutually satisfactory compromise can be achieved that will ensure Grameen Bank’s autonomy and effectiveness,” he said.
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
The issue of Prof Yunus figured prominently at the US State Department’s daily press briefing Tuesday. The briefing was held before Hillary Clinton made the phone call.
Following is the transcript of the question-answer session on Prof Yunus:
CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State.
This afternoon, the Secretary will call Dr Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh.
Dr Yunus was scheduled to be here at the State Department and meet with the Secretary this afternoon. However, he decided to cancel his trip because of the legal challenge he filed in the Bangladeshi courts regarding his position at the Grameen Bank. We are troubled by the letter that the Bangladesh Bank sent to the Grameen Bank concerning Dr Yunus’ status as managing director of the Grameen Bank. We continue to follow developments closely and await clarification from the government of Bangladesh and Grameen Bank. We hope that a mutually satisfactory compromise can be achieved that will ensure Grameen Bank’s autonomy and effectiveness.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that real quick? Can you just explain the reason for her calls? Is it to show solidarity with him in the face of all this, or is there something else on the agenda?
CROWLEY: I mean, he’s a Nobel Prize winner, Medal of Freedom winner, Congressional Gold Medal winner. His public service is widely recognised and respected, and civil society organisations such as the bank play an important role in Bangladesh’s development and democracy. So it is both to show support for his ongoing efforts and the efforts of the Grameen Bank and also to express our concern about developments in Bangladesh.
QUESTION: Sorry. Just one more on that. What specifically…she’s expressing concern about this letter; you’re troubled by it. What troubles you?
CROWLEY: Well, there’s an ongoing court case regarding his dismissal from Grameen Bank, and we are following that court case closely. It is, I believe…the matter is still under appeal.
QUESTION: But the letter…I’m sorry, but the letter itself…
CROWLEY: It regards…
QUESTION: What is troubling about the letter?
CROWLEY: It regards Dr Yunus’ status as managing director of the Grameen Bank.
QUESTION: PJ [Philip J], when Mr Muhammad Yunus applied for a visa, how much in advance did you know about this? Or did the Bangladesh government advise you about this–his visitor case?
CROWLEY: I don’t know, Goyal, how to answer that question. He was due to be here at the State Department this afternoon for a meeting with the secretary of state. He chose to stay not because of a visa issue with us, but because of the ongoing legal case that he is involved in.
QUESTION: Did the secretary call or try to reach anybody in Bangladesh?
CROWLEY: She has talked to the prime minister about this case in the…in recent weeks.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on this. Isn’t this–your concern about the issue–will be considered something interfering with the internal affairs of Bangladesh?
CROWLEY: Well, it’s really about the future and the autonomy and effectiveness of the bank.
[The Daily Star ran a report yesterday headlined: “Justice is delivered” where a source claimed that Foreign Minister Dipu Moni had talked to Hillary Clinton. However, upon further investigation The Daily Star found out it was not the case.]
Courtesy of The Daily Star