Dhaka, Feb 24: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said Bangladesh wants to elevate her relations with the US from partnership to a strategic level through maintaining close and sustained contact with the US leadership. He expressed the hope that US President Joe Biden would visit Bangladesh soon as the two countries want to work together to address common challenges in the region and beyond.
Dr Momen also invited Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Bangladesh soon to see the socio-economic achievements, and join the celebrations of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh.
US Secretary of State Blinken said the US considers Bangladesh as a “crucial economic and security partner” in the Indo-Pacific region.
He lauded Bangladesh’s “remarkable” economic performance and mentioned the existing strong economic partnership between the two countries.
Dr Momen and Blinken expressed their willingness to further deepen Bangladesh-US relations by advancing common goals and mutual interests.
In a tele-conversation, held between the two in Washington on Tuesday, the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State have agreed to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations and enhance cooperation on global issues.
At the beginning of the discussion, the US Secretary of State expressed his regret that he could not physically meet Foreign Minister Dr Momen due to the Covid-19 health restrictions and termed Bangladesh-US relations as a ‘growing and deep’ one.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister underscored the need for early deportation of Rashed Chowdhury, the self-confessed killer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in the spirit of the shared values of establishing good governance, the rule of law and justice.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister said while his 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.
Dr 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 and emphasised the exchange of visits at the highest political levels between the two countries.
On tackling the Covid-19, the Foreign Minister briefed his counterpart on the Bangladesh government’s effective handling of the pandemic, including the ongoing vaccination program that has reduced the number of infection and fatality on the one hand 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.
The Foreign Minister said Bangladeshis are ready to supply medical instruments, like syringes.
The 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 cooperation.
Mentioning the recently held US-Bangladesh Economic Partnership Consultation, Secretary Blinken said the consultation had created great opportunities to advance cooperation in health, energy and business sectors.
He sought favourable policy support from the 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 and High-Tech Parks, underscoring the higher return of investment from Bangladesh as well as the good connectivity.
Both sides expressed their optimism that the US companies would take advantage of the competitiveness of Bangladesh and invest in the country in much greater volume, particularly in the areas of ICT, energy, pharmaceuticals and infrastructural development.
The Foreign Minister also requested the US Secretary of State to consider providing assistance in water management.
Both sides agreed to work together on the promotion of democracy, good governance and human rights.
On the Rohingya issue, the Foreign Minister expresses his thanks and gratitude to the US government for its humanitarian and political support to Bangladesh to cope with the Rohingya exodus.
He emphasised that the US should take the lead and bring the international community together to put enough political pressure on Myanmar to create the condition for the sustainable return of the Rohingyas.
Thanking the US government for imposing sanctions on some individuals, he encouraged the US government to take more stringent measures like imposing economic sanction and withdrawing GSP facilities of Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Dr 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 Rohingyas 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 on the disruption in the democratic process in Myanmar, Secretary Blinken assured that the US would continue its support for Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.
Foreign Minister Dr 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 also 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 the issues like losses and damages.
He expressed optimism that the two sides would be able to work closely on climate change before and during the upcoming COP26.
Dr. Momen is currently visiting Washington DC on an official trip to reach out to the new administration to further enhance the level of cooperation between Bangladesh and the United States.