US wants rapid progress on safety issue

US Secretary of State John Kerry has sought rapid progress both on fire and building safety inspection issues in Bangladesh and quick passage of labour law amendments.He also emphasised the importance of war crimes trials being conducted in the International Crimes Tribunals in a fair, transparent manner in accordance with international standards.
Kerry said this during a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni at the US Department of State in Washington on Friday, according to a message received here on Saturday.
This was the first meeting between the two after Kerry took office in January this year.
Dipu Moni mentioned about her government’s efforts in ensuring good governance by investing heavily in its people, and all in the right areas, and urged the US government for retention of Bangladesh’s GSP benefits in the USA, and extending duty- and quota-free market access for its products.
Secretary Kerry took note of the request and assured of doing his best, according to another message received from the Foreign Ministry.
Dipu Moni apprised the Secretary of State of the government’s recent measures for ensuring workers’ rights and workplace safety, and shared the commitment of the government in the reform of the existing Labour Law which would be placed in the coming session of parliament for enactment.
She informed him about her talks with the US RMG buyers to come up with an action plan for sharing some of the burdens of revamping the RMG industry in Bangladesh.
The Secretary highlighted the strong cooperation between the two countries on a broad range of issues and welcomed the second annual Partnership Dialogue that will take place in Dhaka next week, including a Private Sector Forum, to further enhance strong bilateral trade relations with Bangladesh.
“We look forward to our dialogue, our partnership dialogue that will take place in Dhaka in about a week or so. And this is a very important step towards working on presidential initiatives, including climate change and food security, among others. And these are important initiatives for both of us,” Kerry said.
Secretary Kerry said the relationship between United States and Bangladesh are now on a higher level due to regular holding of partnership and security dialogue, and wished that the coming partnership dialogue from May 26-27 in Dhaka would be another milestone in US-Bangladesh relationships.
Secretary Kerry also expressed condolences for the tragedy at Rana Plaza. “Everybody in America shared the agony of those losses, and our hearts go out to the families. We hope that this will be able to help all of us cooperate on the issue of labor and labour standards and workers and workers’ rights, obviously. We know you want to work hard to cooperate on that, and there are a number of initiatives we have.”
On Rohingya issue, he said, “We also appreciate the difficulties you face with the issue of the Rohingya refugees. The Rohingya is really a problem that comes from Burma, from Myanmar. And the problem is that maybe 30,000 or more are registered refugees in Bangladesh.”
He said the issue creates tensions, and mentioned that it is a difficult issue. “So, we’ve a lot to talk about. We want to see Bangladesh continue to move forward…”
Kerry also expressed their happiness as Bangladesh did not get the worst of the tropical storm Mahasen. “…but it still got hit, and we’re prepared to be as helpful as we can in any way that we can in order to relieve the suffering of people.”
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said, “We’ve worked together on a number of critical initiatives, we’ve a lot of things to discuss. And I believe the US-Bangladesh relationship is at its best now.”
She said Bangladesh is looking forward to more cooperation in all areas of common concern, both bilaterally and also at the multinational level.
During the hour-long meeting, Dipu Moni explained the background and the ongoing procedures of the International Crimes Tribunal that is trying the perpetrators who committed genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the War of Liberation in 1971. Secretary Kerry reiterated his government’s support to the accountability process.
Dipu Moni informed the Secretary of State that Awami League always came to office through people’s verdict, and therefore, it is committed to ensuring a free, fair and inclusive parliament election.
She mentioned Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries with regard to the climate change and therefore, taking a number of adaptation and mitigation projects and urged the USA to stand by it.
The Secretary of State expressed his keen interest in the area and assured the Foreign Minister of extending US assistance.
Dipu Moni apprised Secretary Kerry on the countrywide violence incited by Jamat-Shibir and briefed on the Hefajat-e-Islam’s 13-point demand and the mayhem created by them. “The people of Bangladesh rejected both the violence and the outdated demands.”
When Secretary Kerry mentioned Grameen Bank, the Foreign Minister apprised him about the issue and said as a public statutory body, Grameen is now conducted as per the Rules and Regulations governing this entity and also updating him about the process of appointing a new Managing Director and the obstacles being faced in this regard.
The Foreign Minister renewed her invitation to Secretary Kerry to visit Bangladesh and Kerry accepted the invitation and promised that he would take the visit at the earliest possible time. UNB

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