October 31, 2020, 3:41 pm

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Bangladesh’s stability, growth, strategic location draw US attention

Staff Correspondent: Bangladesh’s political stability over one decade, robust economic growth and its strategic location under the geopolitical context drew huge attention of Washington DC that made Bangladesh-US ties more solid.

This remark was made at a joint press briefing made by Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen and the visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun at state guesthouse Padma after their meeting this morning.

“He (Biegun) told us that the impression about Bangladesh has increased many folds in the US …. numbers of reasons (behind it) are (Bangladesh’s) economic growth, geo political location, stability (as) over the last so many years we have a very stable government and democracy,” Momen said.

The foreign minister said this high level visit shows that the relations between Bangladesh and the USA are becoming more and more solid and it will continue in the coming days.

“The US sees Bangladesh as a key partner in the indo pacific region… Bangladesh is the centrepiece of our word in the region,” said the US Deputy Secretary of State.

Regarding COVID response, he assured that US potential vaccines would be made available in Bangladesh after safe and reliable successful production.

Dr Momen said Bangladesh sought US support in sending back Bangabandhu’s convicted killer Rashed Chowdhury from the USA. “We have good news about it (repatriation of the killer) … he (Biegun) said the US attorney general is looking about it,” he added.

The foreign minister also said he raised the Rohingya issue while the US side reiterated its commitment to work to resolve the crisis.

“It (Rohingya crisis) requires a regional and global response… all countries need to work together shoulder to shoulder … of course, it’s not simply responsibility of Bangladesh,” said the US Deputy Secretary of State.

Terming the Rohingya issue as a global priority, Biegun said, “Every major country in this region should be speaking in equal outspokenness to the Myanmar government and taking necessary steps (to resolve the crisis),” he said.

He also said that the USA would continue to support to find a long-term solution to the Rohingya crisis.

They also discussed about more US investment in Bangladesh as well as the student visa issue of Bangladeshi students.

Biegun said the USA government has approved to open another Bangladesh councillor office in Miami to serve the expatriate and Bangladeshi origin American citizens.

Earlier in the morning, the US Deputy Secretary of State paid tribute to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu at the Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi 32.

“The United States is proud to be a partner, and a friend, as it prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding, and celebrates 100 years since the birth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. We look forward to the next 50 years and beyond towards a strong, independent and prosperous Bangladesh that would make Bangabandhu proud,” he wrote at the visitors book there.

The US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller accompanied him.

After holding meeting with the foreign minister, Biegun called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The US Deputy Secretary of State arrived here on Wednesday afternoon for a three-day visit and held a dinner meeting with his Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam last night.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways to ensure faster economic recovery for Bangladesh in the post COVID-19 scenario and the US side encouraged for larger discussion on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) considering Bangladesh’s growing economy.

Bangladesh also sought preferential trade support for its products from US to accelerate the economic recovery during the post Covid-19 era.

“We have told him about the opportunities to invest in offshore blocks of Bangladesh and he said that it will be encouraging for US energy companies,” Alam told reporters after the meeting.

The US deputy secretary of state will leave here on Friday.

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