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Chollet’s visit a ‘symbol’ of Dhaka’s importance to US

Published : 15 Feb 2023 10:19 PM | Updated : 16 Feb 2023 02:12 PM

Counselor of the U.S. Department of State Derek Chollet on Wednesday said he came to Dhaka “because of the importance we place on the relationship between the United States and Bangladesh.”

“I am just the latest senior visitor from Washington to come here to Dhaka which is a symbol of the importance that we place on this relationship in growing our relationship politically in terms of security as well as economically,” he told reporters after his meeting with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.

Derek Chollet and a delegation of senior U.S. government officials from the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development travelled to Dhaka February 14-15 to meet with senior government officials, civil society members, and representatives from humanitarian organisations.

The foreign ministry said he passed a “busy day” and met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, among others.

The US embassy in a statement said the visit was to demonstrate “continued support” for U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership.

During the meetings, Counselor Chollet emphasised continued U.S. support to Bangladesh in addressing Rohingya issues, the importance of free and fair elections and the protection of human rights, cooperation to mitigate climate change, and a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“This has been a very productive visit to Bangladesh, and I’m honored my first trip to Bangladesh comes on the heels of the year when we marked the 50th anniversary of U.S.-Bangladesh relations,” said Counselor Chollet.

“The United States and Bangladesh have a robust partnership based on decades of cooperation and support, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship in trade, investment, security, and other shared priorities.”

The U.S. government is dedicated to expanding the full range of trade, security, education, and humanitarian cooperation and ties between the Bangladeshi and American people to promote a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for both our nations, the embassy said in a statement.

“We are grateful to the government and the people of Bangladesh for their hospitality to us, but more importantly for what they are doing here in the region particularly with their Rohingya,” Derek Chollet said.

 “We know that Bangladesh is hosting over a million refugees from Myanmar. And we are working every day to try to help Bangladesh as they are hosting these refugees but also to deal with the root causes of this crisis, which rest inside Myanmar.

 “We are hopeful for the future. It's been 51 years of very strong partnership and we are looking forward to the next 51 years and beyond we have many shared challenges, but we have many common opportunities and that's what we talked about here today,” he said.

 During the meetings with the foreign minister and the foreign secretary, the foreign ministry said, they discussed a wide range of bilateral and other issues of mutual interest including the Rohingya situation, Ukraine crisis, trade and investment and rights related matters.

 Chollet appreciated Bangladesh for generously hosting more than a million Rohingyas and assured continued US humanitarian support and actions.

 The US side expressed their commitment to support the ongoing criminal justice mechanisms in international courts.

 Bangladesh thanked the US for its support and requested them to strengthen their humanitarian initiatives to Bhashan Char.

 Bangladesh sought US support for the earliest sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis and their repatriation, the foreign ministry said.

 Regarding Russia-Ukraine conflict, Bangladesh reiterated its position on resolving any disputes through peaceful means and asked for immediate end of the war. 

 Bangladesh has called upon the US to take effective measures to resolve the economic crisis that originated from the global food and oil crisis and the increased living cost due to the reciprocal trade sanctions.

 Chollet informed us that the US has already started working to solve the food crisis. In addition, the US has expressed Bangladesh’s support towards international initiatives to resolve the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

 Acknowledging improvement in RAB’s performance, the US side emphasized the sustained reforms.

 Foreign Minister highlighted that RAB is a key force in law enforcement and earned people’s confidence and trust over the years.

 He sought US support towards their capacity building. Drawing attention to Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in the socio-economic sector, Foreign Minister suggested the US take advantage of Bangladesh’s liberal investment policy by investing in the designated special economic zones.

 In addition, press freedom, national election and other issues were discussed during the meetings.

 The Secretary (West) Ambassador Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhury and other Senior Officials of the Foreign Ministry were present during the meetings from the Bangladesh side.

 The U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas, Counselor for USAID Administrator Clinton White, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of U.S. Department of State, South Central Asia Bureau Elizabeth Horst and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack were present from the US side, said the foreign ministry.

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