“We had a very open discussion on issues of Bangladesh-US relations... it was a fruitful discussion,” Ali said during a media briefing along with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, emerging from the talks with Kerry at state guest house Padma.
Ali said the issues of cooperation in combating terrorism and militancy largely dominated the talks but he declined to elaborate the details immediately saying this briefing was not a befitting time for elaboration.
“These are issues to be disclosed gradually,” he said.
Ali, however, said Kerry was very appreciative of Bangladesh’s ongoing fight against militancy and terrorism with particular mention of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “zero tolerance policy” in this regard.
“Kerry also praised our development initiatives saying Bangladesh is marching forward,” the foreign minister said.
Asked if the issue of duty and quota-free (DFQF) access of Bangladeshi products came up in the discussion, the commerce minister answered in the affirmative.
“Discussions were fruitful... we said the US will have to give us the facility and he agreed to consider the request,” Ahmed said.
Ali said being a disciple of the then Democrat US senator Edward Kennedy, Kerry himself was supportive of Bangladesh’s 1971 independence along with several other senators, ordinary US people and the media though the then US administration was opposed to “our independence.”
“We have conferred several of them (US nationals) with state honour for their supports to our cause in 1971,” Ali said.
The meeting was followed up by a working lunch.