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Washington urges Dhaka to take steps to avoid sanctions

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Dhaka: The United States has urged the Bangladesh government to consult with Bangladeshi companies and make them aware about US sanctions issues related to Russia to avoid any potential sanctions, according to a source at the Commerce Ministry in Dhaka. “Please note that a non-US company could be subject to US sanctions for providing material support to or acting on behalf of a sanctioned individual or entity,” the US Embassy in Dhaka said in a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the matter which was forwarded to the Ministry of Commerce.The European Union and the United States, meanwhile, announced further sanctions on Russia, targeting its energy, banking and defense sectors in the strongest international action yet over Moscow's support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. The US diplomatic note to the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry said what they will do next depends on what Russia does to end the crisis in Ukraine and mentioned that it is in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands. “We’ve offered diplomatic options for Russia to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.”Describing the actions taken by the United States on Russia, the three-page note mentioned, “We encourage your government to speak with your companies about these sanctions to ensure that they aware of them and to avoid any potential sanctions issues.” The US also encouraged all countries and their nationals to consider the operational risk of doing business with sanctioned individuals and entities; and to cease business dealings inconsistent with the sanctions that they and others have imposed. “As we proceed, we must be mindful that some companies may seek to take advantage of our imposition of sanctions to gain a competitive edge against companies adhering to these sanctions regime,” the diplomatic note reads. It said they should not tolerate such ‘backfilling’ by companies from those seeking cynically to take advantage of opportunities made possible because law-abiding companies withdraw from particular business opportunities because of sanctions. “The US would have serious concerns with any company that takes such actions,” the note reads. The US said it is committed to a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine but they have made clear to the Russian government that they would base their next step on Russia’s actions, not its words. Top Foreign Ministry officials could not be contacted for comments about the matter as they are now in New York participating in the ongoing 69th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Talking to UNB, a top business leader said Bangladesh cannot afford such request and enmity with any country as the country’s foreign policy says ‘friendship to all, malice to none’. “We can’t turn an enemy for any country. All countries are our friends. We can’t afford it,” said Abdul Matlub Ahmed, special adviser to India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI).He said Bangladesh and Russia developed very friendly and mutually beneficial ties from the very first days of Bangladesh as an independent state. “Our relations and cooperation are enhancing.” Leaders of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) could not be contacted as they are also taking part in the UNGA.