US hints at looking into Rakhine genocide, Rohingya repatriation: FM, The Prothom Alo, 26 January 2021
Bangladesh on Tuesday said there are indications that the new US administration under President Joe Biden will look into the issue of genocide of Rohingyas in the Rakhine State and hopefully will proactively take action for their safe return to Myanmar.
“It’s good news. There are indications,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said, adding that Rohingya problem was created by Myanmar and its solution also lies with them.
He said Bangladesh is thankful of USA’s principled stand and steadfast humanitarian and diplomatic support to Bangladesh in dealing with the Rohingya crisis since August 2017.
“We also firmly believe that it’s essential to take an effective and well-calibrated intervention on the part of the international community to convince Myanmar to create a safe and conducive environment in the Rakhine State for the dignified return of 1.1 million Rohingyas to their homeland,” Dr Momen said.
The Foreign Minister was addressing as the chief guest at a webinar organised by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) titled “Bangladesh-US Relations: Opportunities and Challenges”.
Prime Minister’s Adviser Salman F Rahman, Professor Rehman Sohan, Ranok Jahan, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller, Bangladesh Ambassador to US Shahidul Haque, Farooq Sobhan and BEI President M Humayun Kabir also spoke at the webinar.
High expectation from Biden administration
The Foreign Minister said the new US Administration under the leadership of President Biden appears to be more supportive to the causes of the developing world, including areas like climate change, trade facilitation, COVID-19 response and migrants.
“Thus, our expectation from the Biden Administration is indeed reasonably higher and we believe, the US will again lead the world in achieving core values and principles,” he said.
With visionary policies undertaken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is fully confident of further strengthening its ties with all development partners to facilitate economic and political cooperation and people-to-people ties, the US being one of the biggest among them, Dr Momen said.
“I’m confident that regular bilateral visits and political level engagements between the two countries at the highest level will elevate Bangladesh-US partnership to a higher plane; and will also generate great dynamism and momentum in our growing relationship,” he said.
Dr Momen said they really want to lift the relations with the US to a newer height in coming days.
He said Bangladesh is committed to achieving sustainable development goals by 2030 and also move forward to achieve its national development agenda articulated in Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.
“We underscore the necessity to strengthen further bilateral and multilateral cooperation and collective actions to tackle the evolving dimensions of health as well as economic crisis during this COVID-19 pandemic as well as during post-pandemic situation,” he said.
Deportation of Bangabandhu’s killer
Dr Momen said the issue of deportation of Rashed Chowdhury, a convicted fugitive killer of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has remained pending at the US side for more than a decade.
Bangladesh requested the US government to speed up the return of Rashed Chowdhury to Bangladesh to face justice.
“In light of our shared spirit of establishing justice and rule of law, I believe that the new US Administration should look into this matter seriously,” Dr Momen said.
In fact, this could be a game changer in the Bangladesh-US partnership, he said adding: “We also have an extradition treaty pending with the US side for a long time.”
Bangladesh-US ties: Dhaka ready to reap full benefits
Dr Momen said trade and investment can be one of the strongest bonds of partnership between Bangladesh and the US.
The US is Bangladesh’s single largest export destination country and the largest investor.
Bangladesh is also becoming an important export market for the US.
“With an upward trend of both way export and import, the total trade volume with USA jumped to US$ 4.1 billion in 2009 from US$1.5 billion in 1996, reflecting 59.4% increase in the total trade volume,” Dr Momen said.
Since then, the figure shows an increasing trend of trade with USA with an amount of $6.4 billion in 2014 to $9 billion in 2019.
However, Dr Momen said despite of the Coronavirus pandemic, until mid-2020, trade figure with USA was $3,405.4 million.
In 2018-19 Bangladesh export to the USA was $6.8 billion including major exportable items such as, woven apparel, knit apparel, miscellaneous textile products, cap, headgear, footwear, tobacco, snacks foods, furniture, ceramic, toys, plastic items, artificial flowers etc. “Now we need to diversify our products portfolio away from single item. Pharmaceuticals, ICT, light engineering, ship building, power and energy are some of the fastest-growing areas of trade and investment in Bangladesh,” said the Foreign Minister. Dr Momen said they are also ready to commence FTA negotiations with the US, American consumers and Bangladesh exports. The Foreign Minister said he is quite hopeful that the steadily growing Bangladesh-US relation will achieve newer heights in coming days under the Biden Administration. “There are so many avenues to be opened, and Bangladesh is keen to reap the full potential,” he said.