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UK wants free, fair election in Bangladesh

Foreign Secretary says

Published : 12 Sep 2023 09:49 PM | Updated : 13 Sep 2023 04:38 PM

The United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday shared its expectation to see a "free, fair and violence-free" election in Bangladesh.

The UK side discussed the election issue with Bangladesh during the fifth Strategic Dialogue held between the two countries at Foreign Service Academy.

"Since they are our old friend and a development partner, they have interest in our elections. We have reiterated our commitment (to hold fair polls). We had positive discussion," Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen told reporters in the evening.

Responding to a question, the foreign secretary said the word ‘participatory’ might have many meanings. Exercising voting rights by all people is a kind of participatory election, he said adding that they do not know which party is thinking what.

"We have no disagreement over a free and fair election," Masud Momen said.

The Foreign Secretary said Bangladesh is also welcoming international observers which was also discussed.

He said the two countries agreed to sign Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to find ways to bring back those Bangladeshis who have become irregular.

A joint working group will also be formed as more students and workers are going to the UK, he added.

The Foreign Secretary said issues like climate change, economic development, mobility and migration, trade and investment, governance, human rights, Indo-Pacific strategy, cyber security and human right were discussed in the dialogue.

"We explained our positions on those issues, " he said, adding that they also discussed the Rohingya issue.

The two sided also discussed the issues of Digital Security Act and how the Cyber Security Act is progressing.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and UK Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Sir Philip Barton co-chaired the dialogue, reflecting the two countries’ shared commitment to develop a modern economic, trade and security partnership.

The dialogue covered political and diplomatic relations, economic, trade and development partnerships, and global, regional and security issues, including the Rohingya crisis.

It provided an opportunity to boost economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, cooperation on COP28 and joint work on climate financing, adaptation and resilience to climate impacts, and showcase the UK’s substantial economic development investment offer.

The fourth Bangladesh-UK strategic dialogue was held in 2021 in London.

During the last strategic dialogue, the UK reiterated its commitment to support Bangladesh achieve a smooth and successful graduation and continue its export-led growth by providing duty-free, quota free access to the UK market until 2029.

The UK committed to work with Bangladesh to deliver free and fair trade by improving the functioning of the WTO and modernising global trade rules.

UK’s landmark Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) came into effect from June this year that simplifies trading rules and cuts tariffs on products entering the UK from 65 developing countries, including Bangladesh.

The DCTS will help grow trade, boost jobs, and drive sustained economic growth, said the UK government, adding that this new scheme demonstrates the UK’s commitment to a modern and mutually beneficial partnership with Bangladesh.

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