Clinton pressures Bangladesh govt in Grameen Bank row

DHAKA Sun May 6, 2012 1:14pm IST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets with Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka May 5, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets with Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka May 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Related Topics

DHAKA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday warned Bangladesh's government not to undermine pioneering microlender Grameen Bank, saying it was a key driver in the South Asian nation's slow climb out of poverty.

Clinton met with Grameen's ousted founder - Nobel Prize-winning economics professor Mohammad Yunus - and later voiced strong support for the organization which has fallen out of favour with Bangladesh's political leadership.

"I have followed the dispute over Grameen Bank from Washington and I can only hope that nothing is done that in any way undermines the success of what Grameen Bank has accomplished," Clinton told an audience at a public question-and-answer session in Dhaka.

"I highly respect Mohammad Yunus and I highly respect the work that he has done and I am hoping to see it continue without being in anyway undermined or affected by any government action. That would be unfortunate."

Clinton, the first senior U.S. official to visit Bangladesh since 2004, has used the trip to bolster Grameen and Yunus himself, who was ousted as the bank's leader last year after the government declared that he was beyond the official retirement age.

Yunus' supporters maintain that his removal was part of a political vendetta by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government against a potential future political challenger to her rule.

U.S. officials say Washington is now watching closely as Bangladesh moves to name a successor to Yunus, emphasizing that the process must be clear and transparent and not undercut Grameen's accomplishments in bringing economic opportunity to poor women.

Around 10 million Bangladeshis, mostly poor women, have been benefited by small credit offered by the Grameen, and Yunus vowed to raise the number by millions more in a few years. The beneficiaries say the money immensely helped them fight - and largely come out of - poverty.

Clinton's 24-hour visit to Bangladesh is part of an Asia tour that started in China, where she tangled with Beijing over the fate of a Chinese dissident holed up at the U.S. embassy, and will conclude in India, where U.S. officials want assurances that New Delhi is taking strong action to cut oil imports from Iran.

Clinton visited Bangladesh in 1995 as U.S. first lady, and on Sunday said the country had made impressive strides in growing its economy, combating poverty, improving agricultural productivity and reducing maternal and child mortality.

She also sought to encourage Hasina and her chief political rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, to reduce tensions which have spurred strikes and protests, ushering in one of the most politically unsettled periods in the country in the past decade.

(Additional reporting by Anis Ahmed; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Food Poisoning

Reuters Showcase

Modi Interview

Modi Interview

PM Modi says al Qaeda will fail in India - CNN   Full Article 

Cost Control

Cost Control

India caps prices of 36 more drugs to improve access - government official.  Full Article 

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba jumps more than 40 pct in trading debut.  Full Article 

Philippines Storm

Philippines Storm

Storm leaves 200,000 displaced in Philippines, heads for Taiwan   Full Article 

On-Air Gaffe

On-Air Gaffe

TV anchor's number is up after naming China's Xi 'Eleven'  Full Article 

Indian Soccer

Indian Soccer

New league will lift Indian soccer, says Del Piero.  Full Article 

New iPhones

New iPhones

Apple faithful line up for latest, larger iPhones.  Full Article 

Director Jolie

Director Jolie

Angelina Jolie to direct Richard Leakey biopic 'Africa'.  Full Article 

Seeking 'Fame'

Seeking 'Fame'

North Korea says imprisoned American tried to become 'second Snowden' .  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage