Dhaka, Apr 24 (UNB) - Bangladesh on Wednesday stressed the importance of an efficient decision-making process over UK visa applications for its nationals, particularly the students and businesspeople.
The UK reiterated its commitment to maintain a high quality service for Bangladeshi nationals at the visa application centres in Dhaka and Sylhet.
The issue came up for discussions at the third Strategic Dialogue between the UK and Bangladesh held at state guesthouse Padma.
Foreign Secretary (Senior Secretary) Md Shahidul Haque and British FCO Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Simon McDonald led the respective sides at the Strategic Dialogue.
Sir Simon highlighted that the number of visa applicants from Bangladesh is increasing year on year with an average approval rate of around 70 percent in 2018 -- up nearly 10 percent from 61 percent in 2016.
The UK welcomed Bangladesh’s continued commitment to take back its citizens who no longer have the right to remain in the UK, and appreciated the progress in this regard, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
Bangladesh reiterated its request for additional annual Commonwealth, Chevening and other scholarships for its students. The UK noted the increase in Chevening allocation and agreed to consider further requests.
Bangladesh also highlighted the concerns of the British curry industry on the shortage of skilled workers and the proposed wage structure as part of the future immigration white paper, whilst recognising their significant contributions to the British economy.
It highlighted its efforts to improve performance against the World Bank’s “Doing Business Index” and both sides agreed that trade was an important enabler of development, and that increasing bilateral trade could bring significant benefits to both countries.
Bangladesh informed the UK that it will host a ‘Bangladesh Trade and Investment Expo’ in London in October or November.
The UK welcomed efforts in this regard to promote commercial links and investment flows between the two countries.
Both countries agreed to consider encouraging coordination between major chambers of commerce.
The UK and Bangladesh agreed that the Cricket World Cup in the UK would provide a good platform to celebrate the strong cultural, sporting and people-to-people links that bind the two countries.
Both sides also agreed to host events in Bangladesh and the UK in 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UK and Bangladesh.
Dhaka, Apr 24 (UNB) - Bangladesh has sought UK’s continued global leadership in ensuring international efforts in all facets of Rohingya crisis, including accountability on the part of Myanmar for alleged atrocities committed against the Rohingyas.
Bangladesh also welcomed UK’s efforts in playing a leading role at the UN Security Council (UNSC).
The issue came up for discussions at the third Strategic Dialogue between the UK and Bangladesh held at state guesthouse Padma on Wednesday that touched upon 17 specific topics.
Foreign Secretary (Senior Secretary) Md Shahidul Haque and British FCO Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Simon McDonald led the respective sides at the Strategic Dialogue in which the issue of finding a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis “figured high”.
Talking about the Rohingya issue on Tuesday, the British senior official who visited Myanmar in January said Myanmar is very well aware about international interest in the Rohingya issue and many international visits over the past months in Myanmar have shown to Myanmar that this is not an issue that the international community is going to let it be dropped.
He said the UK, as one of the permanent members of the UNSC, is the penholder on Rohingya issue in New York. “This is a constant feature of our dialogue.”
Sir Simon said he thinks it is going to take a long time to solve, and mentioned that Myanmar is a country that acknowledges 130 different ethnic groups but the Rohingya people are not among them. “This is a key issue for us and we aren’t going to let it be dropped."
On Wednesday, Sir Simon highlighted that the UK is the second largest provider of humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya crisis.
He reiterated the UK’s long-term commitment to supporting Bangladesh in its humanitarian response and the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Both sides stressed the importance of good governance, human rights and media freedom for any functioning democracy and also for Bangladesh’s economic and social development, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The dialogue demonstrated the full depth of the Bangladesh-UK relationship and involved exchange of views on political relations, celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, trade and investment, education and skills, good governance and human rights, the future development partnership, migration and security and defence cooperation, and regional and global issues of mutual interest.
As fellow Commonwealth members, the UK and Bangladesh stood in solidarity with and condemned the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka that claimed scores of innocent lives and agreed to continue to cooperate on security, countering terrorism and violent extremism to safeguard their citizens and global humanity from this menace.
Commenting on the Strategic Dialogue, Foreign Secretary Haque said it has been a very productive and fruitful exchange of notes. “We discussed all the aspects of our relations -- bilateral, regional and multilateral. We’ve a long-lasting and deep-trusted relationship with the people and the government of the UK since our Independence.”
Sir Simon said it was glad to attend the third Strategic Dialogue with his Bangladesh counterpart Haque. “We held good discussions across a range of high priority areas for both the UK and Bangladesh.”
The first Strategic Dialogue was hosted by Bangladesh in March 2017, while the second one at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in March 2018.
The meeting began with both sides welcoming the progress made in bilateral relations. Both sides briefed on their countries’ political developments domestically and internationally.
Dhaka, April 24 (UNB) - Bangladesh has said the relocation of Rohingya people to Bhasan Char Island will help address the congestion problem in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Wednesday informed the visiting three top UN officials that the government of Bangladesh has already developed Bhasan Char island to accommodate some 1,00,000 Rohingyas.
Heads of three UN agencies -- Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Vitorino, Director General of International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Lowcock, Head of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Emergency Relief Coordinator -- jointly met the State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the afternoon.
They are currently on a joint visit until April 28 and will visit to Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps on Thursday and Friday.
Shahriar expressed dissatisfaction at the failure of Myanmar to build confidence among the Rohingyas to return to their homeland.
He urged the visiting UN agency heads to put in further efforts to create conducive environment in Northern Rakhine and also enhance the engagement with Myanmar in building schools, hospitals, mosques and other basic structures for the Rohingyas in their place of return.
The State Minister also reiterated the proposal of creating a safe zone in Myanmar proposed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the UN General Assembly and requested the visiting dignitaries to pursue with Myanmar for creating the safe zone.
At the end of the meeting, the State Minister assured full support of Bangladesh to the humanitarian actors working for the Rohingyas and urged the UN agencies to take effective steps to solve the Rohingya crisis.
The delegation updated the State Minister about the recent development of work of UN agencies in the Northern Rakhine of Myanmar.
The delegation said though the development is not significant, the situation is better than before, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They also informed about the funding status for implementing the Joint Response Plan-2019.
The delegation members commended Bangladesh’s efforts towards addressing the basic needs of the Rohingyas and said Bangladesh has dealt with the Rohingya issue in an exemplary way.
They said the visit is intended to express consolidated solidarity to Bangladesh.
They also raised the issue of education, training and livelihood opportunities for the Rohingyas in the Cox’s Bazar camps.
Dhaka, Apr 24 (UNB) - New Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das paid a courtesy call on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban on Wednesday.
Principal Information Officer Joynal Abedin briefed reporters after the meeting.
During the meeting, President Hamid recalled with gratitude the crucial role of the people and the government of India in achieving independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
He said, "As the volumes of trade and investment have increased significantly, the relationship between the people of the two countries is also being strengthened day by day."
Terming Bangladesh a country with huge potentials, Hamid called for using the opportunity to enhance mutual cooperation.
Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das said the relationship between the two countries is very excellent and the people from both sides are enjoying the benefit of it.
Secretaries concerned to the President were also present during the meeting.
Dhaka, Apr 24 (UNB) - The United Kingdom (UK) on Wednesday reiterated that they want to have a good relationship with Bangladesh no matter what happens regarding Brexit.
“Our intention, no matter what happens, is to have a good relationship with Bangladesh,” said Permanent Under Secretary (PUS) of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Simon McDonald.
He came up with the remarks when a questioner wanted to know how three things -- a possible Brexit deal, no deal or a bad deal will affect UK’s relationship and business with Bangladesh.
Earlier, he delivered a lecture on “Bangladesh and United Kingdom’s Relations in the context of UK’s exit from the European Union” organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in its auditorium.
Sir Simon also co-chaired the third Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque at state guesthouse Padma.
He said a possible Brexit deal, no deal or a bad deal -- these three things are very different things and the relationship will be affected in different ways.
“In my view, it’ll be easiest if we leave the European Union with a deal because a deal gives us a framework…,” he said adding that the worst will be leaving the EU with no deal.
On Tuesday, Sir Simon said Brexit is happening though it has been delayed. “Once the UK is outside the EU, we can look afresh at our relationship further afield….we think there’re new possibilities.”
He said once they are outside the EU, they expect to be able to trade even more freely with partner countries like Bangladesh. “But this will have to be negotiated.”
At the BIISS event, the British top official faced a number questions on issues related to extradition, sheltering convicted criminals in the UK and irregular migrants.
In most cases, he did not give any direct answer but at one stage, without mentioning any name, he said, “This is an issue. It’s a sensitive issue.”
Sir Simon also said there are many cases and over 90 percent of those cases are happily resolved. “This is because of the good and smooth work between the agencies and high commissions of Bangladesh and the UK.”
Asked whether they discussed the extradition issue in the Strategic Dialogue, he said, “I’m an official, not a politician but I’ve learned a few things from politicians and my answer is example of that. In our talks today, we discussed all the issues which were expected to be discussed.”
Sir Simon said they have touched upon 17 different policy areas during the discussion and climate change is one of those 17 topics.
“Bangladesh is clearly one of the countries which is most affected….Bangladesh and the UK can work closely and will work….,” he added.
Sir Simon, while briefing reporters after the dialogue at Padma, said they take personal pride and interest in the dialogue as he along with the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary initiated it.
“We’re able to look at recent successes of Bangladesh, especially economic successes and very strong growth in the economy,” he said.
Sir Simon led a 21-member delegation from London, which he thinks, a mark of importance his government and country have for this relationship.
On Tuesday, he said the UK wants to have even stronger relationship with Bangladesh once they come out from the European Union (EU), noting that Bangladesh’s economy has been “growing strongly” in recent years.
“Bangladesh is an important market for the UK and it’s becoming even more important,” he said.
Besides, the UK PUS had a bilateral tête-à-tête with his Bangladesh counterpart. Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem also attended the dialogue.
Sir Simon is scheduled to leave here tonight (Wednesday night).