The United States will continue to work “hand in hand” with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue – not only through the provision of aid, but also through sustained support for the voluntary, dignified, and safe return of the forcibly displaced people to Myanmar.
“Our cooperation in responding to the Rohingya crisis is the fruit of a strong bilateral relationship that we seek to enhance even further,” said Heather Nauert, US acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, on Wednesday.
Addressing a reception to mark the 48th Independence Day of Bangladesh at the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, DC, Nauert said the close bonds between Bangladesh and the US have never been more essential – and Bangladesh's leadership more vital – than during this tragic humanitarian crisis, according to a press statement.
Nauert, who made her first overseas visit to Bangladesh last November as the US Department of State spokesperson, said she was deeply moved by her visit to Cox's Bazar and seeing Bangladeshi people opening their doors and their hearts to Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar.
“Bangladesh has the profound gratitude of the American people for all that you have done and continue to do to provide comfort to those in such great need,” she said.
Earlier, Nauert placed a wreath at the bust of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman installed on the chancery premises.
Bangladesh Ambassador to the US Mohammad Ziauddin also spoke at the reception.
Diplomats from foreign missions, officials of different departments of the US government, politicians, intellectuals, businessmen, high civil and military officials, senior journalists, and leading members of the Bangladesh community attended the reception at the Bangabandhu Auditorium in the embassy on Wednesday evening.
Nauert also praised Bangladesh's “extraordinary” social and economic progress and said the US exporters were well-positioned to help to take Bangladesh's economy to the next level by delivering the highest quality goods and services in the world.
She said the US security forces also partner closely with Bangladesh to ensure regional maritime security, defeat terrorists, and strengthen UN peacekeeping.
The US official said as Bangladeshi peacekeepers promote peace and freedom throughout the globe, they follow in the courageous example of the founding father of Bangladesh.
Referencing her visit to Bangabandhu Museum in Dhaka, she said in his celebrated speech on March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu said: “Whether Bangali or non-Bangali, Hindu or Muslim, all are brothers, and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety.”
Nauert said: “Let us honour his [Bangabandhu's] wisdom and spirit and strive together for a peaceful, prosperous Bangladesh where all are considered brothers and sisters and guaranteed their rights, no matter their class, creed, politics or birthplace.”
Bangladesh Ambassador to US Ziauddin said the two countries had continued to further strengthen their existing relations with the support of the new government.
He said the US accorded Bangladesh phenomenal political and humanitarian support, and a reflection of this had been the US administration's support during the Rohingya crisis.
The ambassador said both countries were currently working together on a host of areas of common interests – both bilateral and multilateral.
He mentioned partnership dialogue, security dialogue, military dialogue, and TICFA council of meeting.
“Expectations now prevail for meaningful interaction of political leadership, including at the highest level,” he added.
The ambassador said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's personal experience and strong stand for secularism made her determined to exterminate the menace of terrorism from Bangladesh and to restore the country to its age-old secular and inclusive social fabric.
He said the Bangladesh government continues its efforts to bring back the war criminals living abroad, particularly the convicted killers of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Bangladesh believes that the countries harbouring them will support its efforts to bring the criminals back to Bangladesh to face justice, the Bangladesh envoy added.