DHAKA: Bangladesh has described as "irresponsible" and "unacceptable" the remarks made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, labelling the South Asian country as a place where the al-Qaeda terrorist group carried out attacks.
In a statement published on the US State Department's website on Tuesday, Pompeo implicated some countries as 'terror hubs', drawing criticism from several quarters.
He also termed Iran as a new home base of al-Qaeda, a remark protested by Tehran.
"Imagine too the potential to completely upend fragile places with an established al-Qaeda presence like Libya, Yemen, and the Maghreb, or increase turmoil in places like Bangladesh, where al-Qaeda cells have carried out attacks, Pompeo said in the statement.
Responding to Pompeo's remarks, Bangladesh's foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday: "Such irresponsible comments by a senior leader is very unfortunate and unacceptable".
It said Dhaka would have been happy if any such claim could be substantiated with evidence as it would have enabled Bangladesh to take necessary measures against such activities.
Bangladesh said there was no evidence of any presence of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh, asserting that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has maintained a "zero tolerance" policy against all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, and has been undertaking all possible measures and actions to address the menace.
"Our track record in countering terrorism has earned us global appreciation. In line with our commitment to countering terrorism, we have become a party to all 14 international counter-terrorism conventions and are actively involved with international 'preventive' initiatives to counter-terrorism," the foreign office said.
If such a statement was made out of speculation, Bangladesh considers it "very unfortunate" particularly in the context of Bangladesh's growing bilateral ties with the US, based on shared values, peace, and common goals, it said.