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US Expresses Concern Over Yunus Removal as Bank Chief

Nobel Peace laureate and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama, Mohammad Yunus speaks at the Foreign Correspondents Club, in Bangkok, Thailand, August 19, 2009 (file photo)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake has expressed concern over efforts by Bangladesh's government to remove Nobel Prize-winning microfinancier Mohammad Yunus from the bank he founded.

Blake, who spoke Tuesday during a visit to Dhaka, said Yunus' internationally recognized work has lifted millions of women out of poverty and brought great honor to the country. He said the U.S. is concerned about the dampening effect his departure would have on civil society in general, as well as the integrity and effectiveness of Grameen Bank in particular.

Earlier this month, the country's High Court upheld the Central Bank's order for Yunus to step down, saying the 70-year-old violated Bangladesh's retirement laws by staying on past the age of 60. Yunus appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

During his trip, Blake met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, members of civil society and the opposition.

Blake hailed Bangladesh's progress on economic development and counter-terrorism. He said the country plays an important role in furthering peace and stability both within its borders and across the region.