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12/10/2011: Hon. Foreign Minister's meeting with US Secretary of State

Bangladesh’s relation with the US is a multidimensional one and it has withstood the test of time. This was said by the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. Dipu Moni, MP at a meeting in Washington, DC with the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Held at the US Department of State the meeting featured wide-ranging issues of mutual interests in the spirit of further strengthening the relations both in depth and dimension.

The Foreign Minister mentioned to the Secretary of State that it was extremely important for Bangladesh to conduct the trial of the killers of the Father of the Nation Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members to end the culture of impunity that prevailed in the country for more than 34 years. Dr Dipu Moni mentioned that out of six fugitives, A. M. Rashed Chowdhury had been living in the US. Referring to her recent letter sent to the Secretary of State, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister sought US cooperation for the repatriation of the self-confessed killer to help uphold justice. Secretary Clinton mentioned that the issue has been under the judicial process and assured her that the State Department will look into the matter.

Referring to the bilateral trade Dr. Dipu Moni urged the US side for duty free access for the Bangladeshi products to the US market. She said that excessive tariff is levied on Bangladeshi products, particularly the RMG to enter into US market and requested to rectify the situation. She also urged the US Secretary of State for according facilities to Bangladesh under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as Bangladesh is eminently qualified for it. The Foreign Minister underscored the importance for cooperation in the climate change particularly in the areas of funding and transfer of green technology by the US. On her part, Bangladesh has been taking necessary steps in the area as this pose an existential threat to the country, she said. The Foreign Minister also said that despite severe resource constraints the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina created a fund of US Dollar 300 million for adaptation programs. Emphasizing the importance of the Rule of Law and the government’s commitment in this regard the Foreign Minister underscored the importance of War Crimes Trials in Bangladesh and appreciated US support in the matter.

Welcoming the Bangladesh Foreign Minister the US Secretary of State underscored the importance of US’ relations with Bangladesh, which is a secular, Muslim majority democracy. She applauded the various initiatives taken by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina including the interactions with the countries in the South Asia region particularly the initiative to address the outstanding issues with India. She assured the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh of cooperation in pursuing various development activities and of helping the democratically elected government of Bangladesh in fulfilling the pledges made to its people. She emphasized the importance of working together to effectively promote issues of Bangladesh’s interests with different stakeholders in the US. She also appreciated the achievements of Bangladesh in combating the menace of terrorism and mentioned that Bangladesh is a model country for its role in this regard. She further assured of US’ continued cooperation in fighting terrorism. With regard to Bangladesh’s request for facilities under MCC, the US Secretary of State said that the US side will work together with Bangladesh to that end.

Secretary Clinton expressed her satisfaction with the meetings the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp had with the Bangladesh authorities and hoped that the trial will be conducted in conformity with the international standard. She also assured of cooperation in trade related matters to Bangladesh. Issues pertaining to civil society and media also featured in the discussions. In response to certain concerns on these areas raised by Secretary Clinton the Foreign Minister assured her that the present Bangladesh Government was fully committed to a free and responsible media as well as a vibrant civil society and that in Bangladesh they are enjoying unprecedented freedom now. In response to Secretary Clinton’s queries as to the future stability of the Grameen Bank the Foreign Minister reiterated Government’s firm commitment to the stability, smooth running and success of the Statutory body, which the Government takes pride in, and to the welfare of its borrowers.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister extended an invitation to US Secretary of State to visit Bangladesh to which the Secretary of State responded positively by saying that she would like to visit Bangladesh next year. The Foreign Minister also extended, on behalf of the Honorable President and the Prime Minister, invitation for President barrack Obama to visit Bangladesh. The 45-minute long meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. The US Secretary of State was assisted among others by Assistant Secretary for Central and South Asia Ambassador Robert Blake. The Bangladesh delegation included Bangladesh Ambassador to USA Akramul Qader, Director General (Americas) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.