Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has requested British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to remove Bangladesh from the red-listed Covid-19 countries and allow the stranded British Bangladeshis to travel back to UK from Bangladesh.
“Given Bangladesh's robust vaccine roll-out and significant reductions in Covid infection to 9.82 percent and sufferings of more than 7,000 British-Bangladeshis currently stranded in Bangladesh, the UK should consider removing Bangladesh from the Covid-19 red-list,” he said during a meeting with his UK counterpart on Monday. The Bangladesh Foreign Minister who is now in the Netherlands on an official visit held the meeting virtually with Dominic Raab. Earlier, the meeting was scheduled to be held in person in London on September 2 but it could not be held as the British Foreign Minister had to travel to Doha for an emergency meeting on Afghanistan.
“I would like to assure that given the long standing friendship between our two countries, and based on more frequent genomic sequencing data-uploading by Bangladesh, the British Government will review Bangladesh red list,” he said, according to a press statement of Bangladesh High Commission in London.
During their first official bilateral meeting, the two Foreign Ministers reaffirmed the historic and value-based relations between Bangladesh and the UK since Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971, and agreed to jointly celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relations through exchange of high-level visits and charting an ambitious and ever-expanding Bangladesh-UK post-Brexit strategic partnership.
Discussing the protracted Rohingya crisis and stalemate in the process of safe and sustainable returns, Foreign Minister Momen gave historic references to earlier repatriations of Rohingyas by Myanmar, and requested the British Foreign Secretary to create pressure on Myanmar for immediate repatriation of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
Mentioning the concern of the British Government on the current political turmoil in Myanmar, Dominic Raab reiterated UK’s continued commitment to resolve the Rohingya crisis and that together with the ASEAN and fellow G7 countries, UK would put increased pressure on Myanmar for a sustainable resolution of the Rohingya crisis.
Both the Ministers expressed deep concern at the current Afghan situation and agreed to work closely to restore regional peace, security and stability.
On post-Brexit trade relations with the UK, one of Bangladesh’s largest trade and investment partners, Foreign Minister Momen sought an extension of the UK's zero-duty GSP facility until 2029, specially given the losses suffered by Bangladesh apparel industry owing to post-pandemic cancellations and non-payments by UK retailers.
Citing countries which have already taken dedicated SEZs in Bangladesh, including Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, China and South Korea, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister offered a dedicated SEZ for British investors.
He invited fresh investments in the IT and green RMG and apparel industry, as well as offshore solar and wind power plants, electric vehicles and batteries, electric public transport and railway sectors.
On climate change, Momen recalled his recent meeting with COP26 President Alok Sharma and reiterated Bangladesh's request as the CVF President participation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the CVF-COP26 Leaders Dialogue during the COP26 Leaders Summit in Glasgow.
The Foreign Minister briefed Secretary Raab on Bangladesh and CVF’s priorities and expectations at the COP26 and praised UK leadership for duly addressing the important issue of loss and damage at Glasgow.
Commending Bangladesh as a climate leader and its proactive CVF Presidency role, the British Foreign Secretary called upon Bangladesh to declare a net-zero by 2050 and a transition to clean energy.
Foreign Minister Momen called for immediate transfer of appropriate technologies, large investments and financing from developed countries, specially the UK, for Bangladesh’s transition to a low carbon economy by 2050.
Momen invited Secretary Raab to visit Bangladesh at the earliest opportunity especially during the historic year of Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relations. Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem joined the meeting.
Earlier, the British High Commission in Dhaka issued a press statement on the outcome of the Momen-Raab bilateral meeting and said the UK Foreign Secretary stressed the importance of a coordinated international response on Afghanistan with the aim of safeguarding regional stability.
The Foreign Secretary reiterated the UK’s support for the action Bangladesh has taken on climate change in the run up to COP26 and beyond, especially the country’s transition away from coal to clean and renewable energy, and pressed for Bangladesh to commit to a 2050 net zero target.
He conveyed the UK’s appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh for hosting the Rohingya refugees and reaffirmed the UK’s continued support to ensure dignified lives for the refugees in Bangladesh, to enable the Rohingya to return home to Rakhine state, and to maintain pressure on Myanmar.
The UK Minister welcomed the inaugural UK-Bangladesh trade dialogue and discussed further opportunities for strengthening trade between the two countries.