Bangladesh, US keen to deepen bilateral ties

Publish: 8:35 PM, February 24, 2021 | Update: 8:35:PM, February 24, 2021

Dhaka, – Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken have expressed their willingness to further deepen Bangladesh-US relations by advancing common goals and mutual interests.

In a teleconference, held in Washington DC on Tuesday (Bangladesh time today), the foreign ministers agreed to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations and enhance cooperation on global issues, a foreign ministry press release said here today.

At the beginning of the discussion, the US secretary of state expressed his regret that he could not physically meet the Bangladesh foreign minister due to the COVID-19 health restrictions, and termed Bangladesh-US relations as a ‘growing and deep’ one.

Blinken said that the US considers Bangladesh as a ‘crucial economic’ and ‘security partner’ in Indo-Pacific region.

The US secretary of state lauded Bangladesh’s “remarkable” economic performance and noted the existing strong economic partnership between the two countries.

Dr Momen underscored the need for early deportation of Rashed Chowdhury, the convicted and self-confessed killer of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in the spirit of the shared values of establishing good governance, rule of law and justice.

He said while the Bangladesh government was working with the US Department of Justice on this issue, support from the State Department on this important matter will be greatly appreciated.

They agreed to work together on the promotion of democracy, good governance and human rights.

Momen congratulated the new US administration for upholding the democratic process with a strong popular mandate, assuming once again America’s global leadership role.

He also appreciated the new US administration’s approach of handling the COVID pandemic challenges.

He stated that Bangladesh wants to elevate its relations with the US from partnership to a strategic level through maintaining a close and sustained contact with the US leadership.

On tackling the COVID-19, the foreign minister briefed his counterpart on Bangladesh government’s effective handling of the pandemic, including the ongoing the vaccination program that have reduced the number of infection and fatality and kept the economy running.

He noted with satisfaction the excellent cooperation between the two countries in tackling COVID 19, as manifested through the US donation of high-quality ventilators and Bangladesh’s supply of 6.5 million PPEs to the US in the initial phase of the pandemic. Momen said that Bangladesh is ready to supply medical instruments, like syringes to the US.

The US secretary of state appreciated Bangladesh’s remarkable success in handling the COVID-19 pandemic situation and hoped that both the countries would be able to find newer avenues for collaboration in the post COVID-19 era by mutual support and co-operation.

Mentioning the recently held US-Bangladesh Economic Partnership Consultation, Secretary Blinken said that the consultation had created great opportunities to advance cooperation in health, energy and business sectors.

He sought favorable policy support from Bangladesh government to secure enabling business and investment climate for promoting more trade and investment between the two countries.

The foreign minister welcomed US investment in Special Economic Zones (EPZs) and High-Tech Parks, highlighting the higher return of investment from Bangladesh as well as the good connectivity.

Both the sides expressed their optimism that the US companies would take advantage of the competitiveness of Bangladesh and invest in the country in much greater volumes particularly in the areas of ICT, energy, pharmaceuticals and infrastructural development.

The foreign minister requested the US secretary of state to consider providing assistance in water management.

On Rohingya issue, Momen expresses his thanks and gratitude to the US government for its humanitarian and political support to Bangladesh to cope with the Rohingya exodus.

In this regard, he emphasized that the US should take the lead and bring the international community together to put enough political pressure on Myanmar to create condition for sustainable return of the Rohingyas.

Thanking the US government for imposing sanctions on some individuals, he encouraged the US to take more stringent measures like imposing economic sanction and withdrawing GSP facilities of Myanmar.

Momen further recommended that the US may appoint a Special Envoy on Rohingya, in order to press Myanmar to create a conducive environment for the repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar.

Secretary Blinken appreciated Bangladesh for sheltering over one million Rohingyas and showed his government’s full understanding of the tremendous pressure it has created on the government and the people of Bangladesh.

Expressing concern over the disruption in the democratic process in Myanmar, Secretary Blinken assured that the US would continue its support for Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.

Momen welcomed the decision of the US to return to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Recalling his recent discussion with US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry, he hoped that the new US administration with their climate agenda would be more actively engaged with climate vulnerable countries, including Bangladesh to address the threats and challenges posed by impacts of climate change, including on issues like loss and damage.

He expressed optimism that the two sides would be able to work closely on climate change before and during the upcoming COP26.

Dr. Momen expressed hope that President Biden would visit Bangladesh soon.

The foreign minister also invited his counterpart Blinken to visit Bangladesh to see the socio-economic achievements and to join the celebration of the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh.

Momen is currently visiting Washington DC on an official trip to reach out the new administration to further enhance the level of cooperation between Bangladesh and the United States.

Meanwhile, a US state department statement said Bangladesh and US have expressed desire for close collaboration to address challenges in South Asia and the greater Indo-Pacific region.

During the talk, the two foreign ministers discussed ways to deepen economic, counterterrorism, and defense cooperation, and work together to address common challenges such as climate change, it said.

“The two leaders also discussed Burma (Myanmar), a durable solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis, and the importance of respect for labor and human rights,” read the statement.