Monday, 2 October, 2023

People supporting fair polls have nothing to worry

Haas says about new US visa policy

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 31st May, 2023 12:00:00 AM
  • Print news

US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas has said people in Bangladesh who support free and fair election and work towards that end have nothing to worry about the new visa policy.

“It (visa policy) is meant to encourage behaviours for free and fair elections. There’s nothing to fear,” he said responding to queries from reporters after the inauguration of a photo exhibition at Dhanmondi in the capital on Tuesday.

The US envoy said the Bangladesh Prime Minister is committed to free and fair elections and the US visa policy is to support that commitment.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury and International Affairs Secretary of Awami League Shammi Akhter were present at the event.

Peter Haas said the US people want the same what the people of Bangladesh want -- a free and fair election.

He also appreciated Bangladesh for its decision to welcome international observers during the next general election which he thinks will help Bangladesh hold free and fair election.

On May 24, the US announced a new visa policy for Bangladesh. Under this policy, the US will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.

Peter Haas and Shahriar Alam opened the special photo exhibition titled “Roots of Friendship:  50 Years of US-Bangladesh Relations” at the Edward M Kennedy Center for Public Service and the Arts (EMK Center) to reflect on over 50 years of enduring bilateral relations and people-to-people ties between Bangladesh and the US.

Inaugurating the exhibition, Ambassador Haas said, “This photo exhibition is a testament of the enduring relations and people-to-people ties between the United States and Bangladesh, which only have grown stronger over time.”

An extended celebration of the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties between the US and Bangladesh, this exhibition of 50 historic photographs represents six distinct categories. 

“You will be impressed to see the historic photograph of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s visit to the United States in 1974 as the Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh.  This was the first time that a Bangladeshi head of state met a US President,” Peter Haas said.

Forty-two years later, on May 5, 2012, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu,               met US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and signed the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue to deepen the relationship between the two countries, he said.

The US envoy said the exhibition also displays historic photos of all other previous Bangladeshi heads of state representing diverse political parties when they visited the US. “These images underscore US commitment towards good governance, respect for varied political ideologies, and freedom of expression as the pillars of a functioning democracy.”

He said the US and Bangladesh have established a longstanding partnership in trade and commerce and many US companies have been working in Bangladesh prior to 1971. 

Mentioning about the signing of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) in Washington, DC in 2013, Peter Haas said the US continues to work closely with Bangladesh to achieve greater levels of economic cooperation and development through the TICFA.

He reiterated the US commitment towards supporting Bangladesh in achieving good governance and freedom of expression.

The US ambassador concluded with the wise words of Ted Kennedy, Jr., “It is our shared responsibility to uphold the spirit of friendship, a bond as strong and as broad as a banyan tree.”