US ship in Bangladesh is for relief activities: Foreign Adviser

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Dhaka, Nov 26 (UNI) Clarifying the presence of US ship in Bangladesh, Foreign Advisor Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury today said the ship was present purely for relief activities for the cyclone-affected people.

''The presence of them (US ship) is only for relief activities.

We've announced before and we're doing now that the Bangladesh government will be in the driver's seat and lead the process,'' he told reporters replying to a volley of questions about the US ship entering Bangladesh's territorial border last Thursday.

When asked whether the purpose of the US ship was humanitarian or intervention, and how long it is going to stay here, Dr Chowdhury said, ''I can only share with you the information I'm aware of. I was told that this capacity (of the US ship) has added to our capacity to transport relief to needy people''.

Dr Chowdhury said the US cooperation would reduce the sufferings of the affected people and help the relief goods reach impenetrable areas.

''In the international arena, there are innumerable examples of such types of assistance following natural disasters,'' the Foreign Advisor said adding that similar nature of humanitarian help was provided to the Tsunami and earthquake devastated Indonesia.

Dr Chowdhury said, ''this type of friendly cooperation is generally acknowledged as normal and positive in the sphere of friendly relations between states. It's considered as a normal process of international diplomacy''.

Narrating the capability of the ship, Dr Chowdhury said the ship, with helicopters on board, would facilitate transportation of relief, purified water and medicines.

When asked about the arrival of a second ship, the Advisor said he is not informed about the navigation of the second ship.

He said the helicopters on board today made five sorties distributing 2,500 gallons of purified water in the affected areas and the capacity of using the helicopters would gradually increase.

About international aid for cyclone 'Sidr', Dr Chowdhury said so far the country has received aid worth 450 million dollars.

Huge relief has come and more will follow, he said adding, ''we're coordinating the matter in the best possible manner.'' Replying to a question, the Foreign Advisor said the state of emergency in Pakistan and Bangladesh is not the same. ''It's totally different and everyone can realise that. And, the matter has been treated that way (at the Commonwealth summit).'' UNI XC SR HS2126

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