Bangladesh crucial economic and security partner in Indo-Pacific region, US Secretary of State Blinken tells his counterpart in maiden telephone conversation
Bangladesh wants to elevate its relations with the United States to a strategic level through maintaining a close and sustained contact with the leadership in Washington.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen expressed the willingness as his counterpart, new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, spoke to him over telephone on Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.
Dr Momen is currently visiting Washington DC on an official trip to reach out to the new administration to further enhance the level of cooperation between Bangladesh and the US, according to the ministry.
Blinken expressed regret for not meeting Dr Momen personally due to Covid-19 health restrictions, it added.
The secretary of state stated that the US considered Bangladesh as a crucial economic and security partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
Both the leaders expressed their willingness to further deepen Bangladesh-US relations by advancing common goals and mutual interests.
They agreed to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations and enhance cooperation on global issues.
Dr Momen 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 Covid-19 pandemic challenges.
Mentioning the recently held US-Bangladesh Economic Partnership Consultation, Secretary Blinken said the consultation created great opportunities to advance cooperation in health, energy and business sectors.
He sought favourable policy support from the Bangladesh government to secure enabling business and investment climate for promoting more trade and investment between the two countries.
The foreign minister welcomed US investment in special economic zones and high-tech parks in Bangladesh, underscoring the higher return of investment as well as the good connectivity.
Both sides expressed their optimism that the US companies would take advantage of the competitiveness of Bangladesh and invest in the country in much greater volume, particularly in the areas of ICT, energy, pharmaceuticals and infrastructural development.
They agreed to work together on the promotion of democracy, good governance and human rights.
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The foreign minister 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.
While his government is working with the US Department of Justice on this issue, support from the State Department on this important matter will be greatly appreciated, he said.
On the Rohingya issue, Dr Momen emphasized that the US should take the lead and bring international community together to put enough political pressure on Myanmar to create condition for sustainable return of the Rohingyas.
Thanking the US government for imposing sanctions on some individuals, he encouraged the US government to take more stringent measures like imposing economic sanction and withdrawing General System of Preferences (GSP) facilities of Myanmar.
Secretary 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 the country.
Expressing concern on the disruption in the democratic process in Myanmar, he assured that the US would continue its support for Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.
Dr Momen welcomed the decision of the US to return to the Paris Agreement on climate and expressed optimism that the two sides would be able to work closely on climate change before and during the upcoming COP26.
Meanwhile, on the conversation, Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said: "Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Momen discussed ways to deepen economic, counter-terrorism, and defence cooperation, and work together to address common challenges such as climate change.
"The two leaders also discussed Burma, a durable solution to the Rohingya refugee crisis, and the importance of respect for labor and human rights," he said.
Secretary Blinken congratulated Foreign Minister Momen on Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2021, and both leaders expressed the desire for closer collaboration to address challenges in South Asia and the greater Indo-Pacific region, he added.