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Friday, October 10, 2014, Ashwin 25, 1421, Zilhajj 14, 1435 Hijr

Govt to probe BD envoy?s meeting with Israeli diplomat in Manila
Saleem Samad
Publish Date : 2014-10-10,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 168
Embarrassed Foreign Ministry is probing into the incident of the Bangladesh Ambassador in the Philippines who has invited the Israel ambassador to dinner in Manila recently.
The government is shocked to learn that the retired Major General John Gomes, PSC, could invite Menashe Bar-On, Head of Mission of Israel in Manila recently, Foreign Office sources said.
The dinner was attended by 14 diplomats of various countries at the Bangladesh Ambassador's official residence in Metro Manila. His (Gomes) wife flew in from Canada to join the dinner.
Foreign Ministry officials told The Daily Observer on Thursday that the Ambassador is likely to be called back after Eid holidays.
However, it could not be confirmed whether he has been asked to come back, nor the possible date of his (Gomes) return home.
The Ambassador does not deny inviting the Israel envoy, nor accepts any wrong-doing, sources said.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam confirmed that the incident had upset the authorities and an investigation has been launched. The Ambassador has been asked to explain the episode of inviting the Israel Ambassador, when Bangladesh has no diplomatic relationship since the country was born in 1971.
Alam expressed his surprise as to how could General Gomes officially invite an Israeli diplomat, which could be described as violation of diplomatic norms.
He assured The Daily Observer that the probe would look into the reasons for inviting the "unwanted guest" which is brought shame. The probe would also look into his activities as a diplomat, the State Minister said.
Senior officials confided to The Daily Observer that it has come to the notices of the Foreign Ministry of several irregularities of Ambassador John Gomes.
John Gomes was commissioned in the Bangladesh Army as an infantry officer in 1977 and retired as a Major General in 2008. In October 2013 he was appointed as a diplomat and posted in Manila.
Foreign Office said General Gomes told them that Israel Ambassador Menashe Bar-On is senior diplomat and highly respected in Manila and have excellent relationships with most of the diplomat.
The dinner hosted by Gomes was not official, but was organised privately with select ambassadors in Manila. He told the foreign office that the national exchequer was not billed.
The diplomat invited the said ambassador and described him as a "gentleman" and desires to maintain a relationship with him (Bar-On) and did not feel that it would be any problem for Bangladesh government, Foreign Office sources said.
A former Ambassador Humayun Kabir, whose last posting was in Washington DC, United States said a Bangladesh diplomat has to be extra careful, specially with Israel, even shaking hands with Israeli diplomats at national events and state functions should be deliberately avoided.
"There is no question of inviting an ambassador of a country with whom Bangladesh has no diplomatic ties. Nor does the government has any pressure for recognising Israel, which is not recognised by majority of the developing countries on the political freedom and rights of the Palestine state," Shahriar Alam told The Daily Observer.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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