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US visa curbs: Inclusion of media not ‘a right choice’, says Shahriar

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam yesterday said the inclusion of media under the US visa restrictions does not seem to be "a right choice, or right thing to do or say".

"There, you have a say, too. We expect they will not take any steps that interfere in the freedom of the media or limit its freedom," he told reporters when a journalist raised the issue.

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The state minister hoped that the US administration would look into why the US Ambassador in Dhaka, Peter Haas, mentioned the media when talking about the visa restrictions.

He, however, said this is not an issue that should worry general people.

He said that Bangladesh expects the new US visa policy will not be applied arbitrarily or in a non-objective manner.

The United States has earlier said its visa restriction policy can be applied to anyone "found to be undermining" democratic elections in Bangladesh.

"This could include vote rigging, intimidating voters, use of violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from participating in the electoral process or expressing their views," US Embassy Spokesperson Bryan Schiller told UNB earlier while responding to a question.

In May this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) ("3C") of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh's goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.