Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her hope about the international community’s focus on the Rohingya issue would play a significant role to speed up the repatriation of Myanmar citizens
The new British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Sarah Cook, paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister yesterday. The meeting took place at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Residence, Gono-Bhobon. During the courtesy call, Cook stated that her country is keen to enhance the bilateral trade and investment relationship with Bangladesh.
About the Meeting
Issues like bilateral relations, security, climate change, and regional issues were discussed in the meeting. In addition to that, satisfaction was expressed about the existing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the United Kingdom, and there was also hope expressed to further enhance and strengthen the relationship. During the meeting, Prime Minister’s Ambassador-at-Large Mohammad Ziauddin and Chief Secretary Mo. Tofazzel Hossain Mia was present with the Prime Minister.
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Prime Minister Secretary Ihsanul Karim stated that “during the meeting bilateral relations, security, climate change, Rohingya, and regional issues came up for discussion.”
“Both of them (Sheikh Hasina and Sarah Cooke) expressed satisfaction over the ongoing bilateral relations and cooperation,” Ihsanul added.
Sarah Cooke stated that “The UK will continue to cooperate with Bangladesh in its development efforts. Britain will particularly continue to support the education of girls in Bangladesh.”
“We want a free, fair, and peaceful election to be held in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is due to hold its next general elections by January next year,” Cooke added.
Prime Minister’s View
In the meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her hope about the international community’s focus on the Rohingya issue would play a significant role to speed up the repatriation of Myanmar citizens. In response, the British High Commissioner emphasized imparting skills development training to the displaced Rohingya people so that they can be re-employed after their repatriation at the meeting.
The prime minister raised concerns about the prolonged stay of the Rohingyas could exacerbate social problems in the Cox’s Bazar region. In response, the British high commissioner stated that” Rohingya repatriation will be accelerated if the issue is in the centre of international attention.”
Sarah Cooke also spoke of providing education and skill development training to the Rohingyas so that they can re-enter their homeland Myanmar for employment.
Bilateral Relationship of Both Countries
Regarding Bangladesh and UK’s bilateral relationship, the prime minister addressed the struggles of long 21 years (from 1975 to 1996) for the restoration of democracy in the country and Hasina stated that “after the commencement of the BNP-Jamaat alliance in the 2001 general election, they celebrated the win unleashing a reign of terrors, killing hundreds of people, raping women, and looting villages across the country.”
“It is we who established freedom of expression and opened the media to the private sector,” Hasina added.
Prime Minister also expressed her satisfaction with the existing bilateral relationship between the two countries on the climate issue, stating that both countries have signed a climate agreement in March of the upcoming year to further advance bilateral and multilateral climate actions related to climate action.
The newly appointed British High Commissioner arrived in Bangladesh on April 30th, 2023, to commence her official duties. Previously, Cooke served Bangladesh as the country representative for the Department for International Development (DFID) from 2012 to 2016.
In 2005, Cooke joined DFID where she was responsible for UK international development policy on economic growth and investment, anti-corruption, and aid effectiveness.
Before this, she was head of the South East Asia Department at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (2020-2023) and the British High Commissioner to Tanzania (2016-2020).