In a recent press conference held in Washington D.C., Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Vedant Patel answered some crucial questions from Dostogir Jahangir, the Washington D.C. correspondent of Bangladesh’s popular news channel Somoy TV. During the question Mr. Jahangir questioned Mr. Patel on involvement of US Embassy in Bangladesh in sharing an anti-government propaganda video. Mr. Jahangir also asked for comments on Bangladesh’s socio-economic development, extradition of Rashed Chowdhury and US commitment on supporting Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.
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QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Patel. I’m from Somoy News from Bangladesh. My question – foremost, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity. We have noticed that Deutsche Welle and Netra News link on web was shared on the verified official Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh. How does it go with foreign policy approach of the USA and vice versa Bangladesh?
And second question, I want to ask you that the overall impressive socioeconomic development of Bangladesh over the last decade is not accidental. It happened due to a long-term plan, execution with good governance, when USA is also an important partner. How do you view the economic growth of Bangladesh?
MR. PATEL: So, as it relates to this specific Facebook post, I will – I’d refer you to the embassy in Dhaka. I’ve not seen that, so I’m not aware, but I’m happy to check and see if we have anything to offer on that.
Broadly though, the U.S. and Bangladesh last year celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations, and over the past 50 years we have provided more than $8 billion in aid across many sectors, whether that be health, agriculture, humanitarian assistance, Bangladesh’s growth and prosperity. The U.S. also looks forward to deepening our engagement with Bangladesh in the years to come, and we believe that there’s important potential for cooperation on a number of issues, including climate change, development, the economy, and humanitarian assistance as well.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have a last question. Rashed Chowdhury, one of the self-confessed and convicted killer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, continues to find shelter here in USA. U.S. policy commitment of upholding justice and ensuring accountability globally, how – yeah, how do you see – go with this U.S. global policy of sheltering a convicted killer here in U.S. soil?
MR PATEL: I just don’t have anything to offer on that. If there is some sort of active case or litigation towards this individual, that would be a matter for the Department of Justice. But I’m happy to check and see if we have anything more.
QUESTION: As you know that Bangladesh has been hosting over 1 million Rohingya refugees since 2017, and in his recent meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. Momen, Secretary Blinken mentioned Bangladesh’s remarkable generosity for hosting this huge number of Rohingya refugees. In his meeting with the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today, the outgoing UK high commissioner to Bangladesh, Robert Chatterton Dickson, said that his country supports Bangladesh on Rohingya issue. So, as you know that Rohingya – Burma – Myanmar has not taken one single Rohingya back yet, so do you have any plan to put pressure on Myanmar with – to take Rohingya back with the international community?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any specific new policy to announce, but what I would say is that – and the Secretary reiterated this in his bilateral engagement with the foreign minister last week – is that we recognize that Bangladesh has shown incredible generosity and compassion in welcoming, as you said, almost a million Rohingya into the country and giving them shelter. The U.S. has also been deeply engaged in this as well, offering more than $1.9 billion in humanitarian assistance to support refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, Burma, and the region since the start of the Rohingya crisis in August of 2017. We’ll continue to maintain pressure on the Burma military regime to cease its violence and restore the country’s path toward genuine and inclusive democracy.