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Kissinger's stopover in Bangladesh before Bangabandhu's assassination was notable

DHAKA, Aug 13, 2014 (BSS) -The whirlwind visit of the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, to Bangladesh before the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975 was significant in more ways than one.

He paid a 19-hour visit to Bangladesh on October 30, 1974 and met
Bangabandhu for a couple of hours at the Gonobhaban.

Lawrence Lifschultz, a US journalist, writes about this visit: Within a month of Kissinger's visit the US Embassy in Dhaka had become a bee-hive of activity.

Professor Abu Sayeed writes extensively about it in his book, 'Bangabandhu Killing: Facts and Documents.' Besides, Lifschultz also wrote about it in his book, 'Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution'.

After his meeting with Bangabandhu Kissinger told journalists, "He is a man of vast conception. If I had not met him I would not have realized that it is possible for human beings to reach that height. It has been a rare experience for me."

When a journalist asked him, when he was so appreciative of his foresight and wisdom, why did he send the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal in 1971, Kissinger did not answer and the press conference ended, abruptly, only three minutes after it had started.

Lifschultz further writes, those who were aware of Kissinger's plans felt that the US diplomats' comments were kind of satirical.

Besides there were other indications of the US attitude. For instance, when a foreign head of government goes to the United Nations on a maiden tour, he is usually honored with an invitation to the White House. But despite repeated queries from the Bangladesh foreign ministry there was no clear response from the White House, in this case.

Later, when it was clear that, whatever the circumstances, Bangabandhu would visit Washington D.C., anyway, to visit old friends, the State Department hurriedly arranged a 15-minute meeting with the US president.

But the entire ambience of the meeting was cold. Kissinger did not even have the courtesy to meet Bangabandhu while he was in Washington. But it is true that Kissinger met Bangabandhu at the United Nations' headquarters, a few days back.

Therefore, Lifschultz says, Kissinger's effusive remarks about Bangabandhu were all verbiage.

Earlier on June 24, 1974 the Pakistani prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, came on a three-day trip to Bangladesh. His entourage was 107-person long. On the other hand, despite being accorded adequate respect, deserving of a foreign head of government, on the day of his arrival the local newspapers were full of file-photos of the barbarity of the Pakistan army in 1971.

Apart from Kissinger's trip to Bangladesh there were a number of
international developments which would have a direct or vicarious impact on events, here. They included, the recognition of the revolutionary government of South Vietnam by Bangladesh and providing its president a red-carpet reception, the severe floods of 1974 and the ensuing famine and Khondoker Moshtaque's trip to Iran.