The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, AK Abdul Momen, and the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony J. Blinken, had an official bilateral meeting in Washington on Monday to discuss ways for strengthening Bangladesh-US relations on key fronts.
The meeting was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. US Time. Momen had traveled from New York to Washington on Sunday. In their initial remarks in front of the media, both leaders expressed satisfaction with the existing bilateral relations and reaffirmed their desire to further strengthen bilateral ties over the next 50 years, building on the solid foundation of the previous 50 years.
Strengthening relations on various fronts
During the discussion, Bangladesh advocated for a strengthening of trade and investment ties. Blinken stated that they are committed to finding methods to “strengthen and deepen” the already robust relationship with Bangladesh.
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Momen described the Bangladesh-United States relationship as expansive, dynamic, and multifaceted, and wished to develop, strengthen, and strengthen the ties. The Bangladesh Foreign Minister thanked President Biden for his cordial Independence Day message to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which ended with “Joy Bangla.”
The two parties also focused on other issues of mutual interest, such as the strengthening and diversification of economic partnership, the resolution of the Rohingya crisis, climate change, labour rights, civil liberty, and elections, as well as the promotion of regional security through UN peacekeeping operations. Momen commended the United States for their generous assistance in combating Covid-19.
Talks on labour situation and investment:
The foreign minister apprised Secretary Blinken of the ongoing and completed labour sector reforms in Bangladesh and hoped that these efforts would be appropriately recognized and appreciated through a strengthened economic partnership between the two countries. Blinken praised the ongoing US-Bangladesh consultative process for enhancing Bangladesh’s labor situation. The foreign minister urged the United States to take advantage of Bangladesh’s generous investment regime and encourage private sector investment in Bangladesh’s special economic zones and high-tech parks.
The Rohingya concern:
Momen applauded the United States government for its ongoing humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees sheltered in Bangladesh. He emphasized the importance of sustained international pressure on Myanmar to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas. “We’ve been doing more recently on everything from climate to health,” he added.
Blinken stated that the United States “deeply” values Bangladesh’s “remarkable” benevolence in providing shelter to more than one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. “We’re committed to continuing to work together to find ways to strengthen and deepen the relationship to address economic development, human rights,” he said.
Momen reaffirmed Bangladesh’s request to extradite Rashed Chowdhury, a self-confessed murderer of Bangabandhu, who has been living freely in the United States.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the foreign minister presented Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina’s letter of gratitude to US President Joe Biden for his cordial message on Bangladesh’s Independence Day.
World is looking to Bangladesh for the next election: Blinken
The United States repeated its desire for a free and fair election in Bangladesh, noting that the world will be watching Bangladesh’s next election closely.
“Of course, we are looking, the world is looking to Bangladesh for its next elections to make sure that they set up a strong example of free and fair election for the region and world,” said US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken during the meeting.
The two nations are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic ties as Bangladesh prepares for its next parliamentary elections. The foreign minister concurred with the U.S. secretary of state on the significance of free and fair elections and reaffirmed the Bangladeshi government’s commitment to this end.
Momen’s post meeting statement
Foreign Minister Momen stated to the media after the meeting that Bangladesh, like the United States, desires a free, fair, and model election. “Democracy is in our blood. People gave blood to uphold democracy, justice and human dignity,” he said, seeking assistance from the US for a free and fair election. Momen emphasized the election commission’s independence and the measures taken to ensure a transparent election. He stated that Bangladesh invites American observers but not partisan ones. “All opposition parties must come forward to help in holding a free and fair election. We are creating the environment for a free fair election,” he added.
The previous talks
Momen and Blinken met on April 4, 2022, to commemorate and reflect on the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-US relations. They discussed the “tremendous economic potential” of the partnership and reflected on the ways in which the two nations have collaborated over the past half century, including the strengthening of people-to-people ties through Fulbright exchanges.
The foreign minister’s return date is set for April 13. HPM Sheikh Hasina will be visiting the United States after Momen’s ongoing visit to USA. On May 1, Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to travel to the United States to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations’ closing ceremony. During the visit, Sheikh Hasina is anticipated to meet with US President Joe Biden. Such exchange of visits is significant before the general elections in Bangladesh.