Clinton Meets with Bangladesh Micro-Lender Pioneer

Posted May 6th, 2012 at 3:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the work of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus at a closed-door meeting with him Sunday in Bangladesh, a day after the top U.S. diplomat met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The prime minister's administration ousted Yunus, who is 71, as managing director of the pioneering micro-lender Grameen Bank last year in a retirement-age dispute. His removal has been criticized by Washington.

Later Sunday, Clinton flies to India, the final stop of her three-nation Asian tour, which began in China.

Saturday was Clinton's first day in Bangladesh, a country that many in Washington see as a vital ally. She met with Bangladeshi government officials in the capital, Dhaka.

Speaking with reporters, Clinton said the United States wants to see Bangladesh and its democracy succeed but that violent demonstrations “exact a heavy toll, especially on Bangladesh's poorest and most vulnerable citizens.”

Bangladeshi officials have said they want to encourage more investment from the United States and would like to gain greater access to U.S. markets. Clinton said for that to happen, Bangladesh must set aside its internal bickering, and end the related violence.

The top U.S. diplomat began her overseas trip in China. Several days of meetings with Chinese officials were focused on the fate of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.

Clinton left China having secured an agreement that would allow Chen to apply to study abroad. The deal is seen as a breakthrough in the diplomatic dispute that began when Chen escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. embassy.

American officials confirmed reports that Chen has received a letter from a U.S. university offering him a fellowship.

Some human rights activists say the U.S. should be skeptical about the Chinese government's assurances regarding the safety of Chen.