Combination of file photos show Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken
BSS | Reuters

Dhaka wants to “develop much solid relations” with Washington, says the foreign minister

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen is scheduled to leave here for Washington on Monday night (tonight) on a quick visit to have “broad-based” discussions with the USA. 

The Foreign Minister will have a series of meetings, including one with US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken. 

“I’m leaving for the USA tonight (Monday night). The meeting with the US Secretary of State will be held on February 24 (Bangladesh time),” he said. 

Dr Momen said there is no specific issue but they will have broad-based discussions as the new administration is in place in the USA. “We want to develop much solid relations with the USA.” 

With an upward trend in both way export and import, the total trade volume with the USA jumped to US $ 4.1 billion in 2009 from US $1.5 billion in 1996, reflecting a 59.4 % increase in the total trade volume. 

Since then, the figure shows an increasing trend of trade with the USA with an amount of $ 6.4 billion in 2014 to $ 9 billion in 2019. 

However, the trade figure with the USA was US $ 3,405.4 million until mid-2020 despite the Corona pandemic. 

In 2018-19, Bangladesh export to the USA was US$ 6.8 billion, including major exportable items, such as, woven apparel, knit apparel, miscellaneous textile products, cap, headgear, footwear, tobacco, snacks food, furniture, ceramic, toys, plastic items and artificial flowers. 

Earlier, the Foreign Minister said, there were indications that the new US administration under President Joe Biden would look into the issue of genocide in the Rakhaine State and will hopefully proactively take action for their safe return to Myanmar. 

Rohingya Crisis  

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 this is 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 Rakhaine State for the dignified return of 1.1 million Rohingyas to their homeland,” Dr Momen said recently. 

The Foreign Minister said the new US administration under the leadership of President Joe 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. 

Dr Momen said they really want to lift the relations with the US to a newer height in the coming days. 

He said Bangladesh is committed to achieving sustainable development goals by 2030 and also moving forward towards achieving its national development agenda articulated in Vision 2021 and Vision 2041. 

Deportation of Rashed Chowdhury 

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 on the US side for over a decade. 

Bangladesh urged 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 the rule of law, I believe 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.” 

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