US Secretary of State J. Antony Blinken and Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday discussed ways to further deepen Dhaka-Washington relations by advancing common goals and mutual interests.
Bangladesh wants to elevate her relations with the US from partnership to a strategic level through maintaining a close and sustained contact with the US leadership.In a tele-conversation held between the two leaders in Washington DC, Blinken said the US considers Bangladesh as a crucial economic and security partner in Indo-Pacific region.
The Bangladesh foreign minister and his US counterpart have also agreed to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations and enhance cooperation on global issues.
They discussed a wide range of issues, including economy, good governance, human rights, democracy, climate change, Rohingya repatriation, corona crisis and deportation of Bangabandhu’s self-confessed killer Rashed Chowdhury.
Momen is currently visiting Washington DC on an official trip to reach out the new US administration to further enhance cooperation between the two countries.
At the beginning of the discussion, Blinken expressed his regret that he could not physically meet the Bangladesh foreign minister due to the corona restrictions and termed Bangladesh-US relations a ‘growing and deep’ one, the Foreign Ministry in a press statement said on Wednesday.
Earlier, Spokesperson for the US Department of State Ned Price in a statement said Blinken and Momen discussed ways to deepen economic, counterterrorism, and defence cooperation, and agreed to work together to address common challenges such as climate change.During the conversation, the two leaders also discussed a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis and the importance of respect for labour and human rights.
The US Secretary of State greeted Momen on Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2021. Both leaders expressed their desire for closer collaboration to address challenges in South Asia and the greater Indo-Pacific region, Ned Price added.
The Bangladesh foreign minister 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 corona pandemic challenges.
Momen stated that Bangladesh wants to elevate her relations with the US from partnership to a strategic level through maintaining a close and sustained contact with the US leadership. In this regard, he laid emphasis on exchange of visits at the highest political levels between the two countries.
He also expressed the hope that US President Joe Biden will visit Bangladesh soon.
Momen invited Blinken to visit Dhaka soon to see Bangladesh’s socio-economic achievements and join the birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.
The US Secretary of State lauded Bangladesh’s ‘remarkable’ economic performance, noted the existing strong economic partnership between two countries and stated that the US considers Bangladesh as a crucial economic and security partner in Indo-Pacific region.
On tackling Covid-19, Momen briefed his US counterpart on Bangladesh government’s effective handling of the pandemic including the ongoing vaccination programme, which has reduced the number of corona infections and fatalities on the one hand and has kept the wheels of economy running.
He noted with satisfaction that 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 at the initial phase of the pandemic. He said 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 and hopes that both the countries will be able to find newer avenues for collaboration in the post-corona era through mutual support and co-operation.
Mentioning the recently held US-Bangladesh Economic Partnership Consultation, Blinken said the consultation had created great opportunities to advance cooperation in health, energy and business sectors.
He sought policy support from the Bangladesh government to secure enabling business and investment climate for promoting trade and investment between the two countries.
Momen welcomed US investment in Special Economic Zones and High-Tech Parks, underscoring the higher return of investment from Bangladesh as well as good connectivity.
Both sides expressed their optimism that US companies will take advantage of the competitiveness of Bangladesh and invest in the country in much larger volume, particularly in the areas of ICT, energy, pharmaceuticals and infrastructural development.
The Bangladesh foreign minister also requested the US Secretary of State to consider providing assistance in water management.
The two sides also agreed to work together on the promotion of democracy, good governance and human rights.
Momen 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, rule of law and justice.
He said while 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.
On Rohingya issue, the Bangladesh foreign minister expressed his gratitude to the US government for its humanitarian and political support to Bangladesh to cope with the Rohingya exodus and emphasised that the US should take the lead and bring international community together to put political pressure on Myanmar to create condition for sustainable return of the Rohingyas.
Thanking the US government for imposing sanctions on some individuals, he urged the US to take more stringent measures like imposing economic sanction and withdrawing GSP facilities from Myanmar.
Momen further recommended that the US 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.
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 will 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 also expressed the hope that the new US administration with their climate agenda will be more actively engaged with climate vulnerable countries, including Bangladesh, to address the threats and challenges posed by the impacts of climate change.
The Bangladesh foreign minister also expressed optimism that the two countries will be able to work closely on climate change before and during the upcoming COP26.