US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells will visit Bangladesh from November 5 to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues, including the Rohingya crisis.
Wells will meet senior government officials and civil society leaders.
In Cox’s Bazar, she will meet Bangladeshi officials and representatives from international and non-governmental organisations to discuss US humanitarian assistance.
She will also observe the conditions Rohingyas and host communities are facing, according to US Department of State.
Wells is likely to meet Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen during her three-day visit.
She will visit Bangkok before coming to Dhaka.
In Bangkok, she will hold bilateral meetings with regional partners on the margins of the East Asia Summit and Indo-Pacific Business Forum, and will participate in a session of the US-Australia-India-Japan “Quad” consultations.
Nestle Switzerland on Friday has expressed its interest to provide technical assistance to Bangladesh Standards & Testing Institution (BSTI) to improve its food testing capacities and ensure food quality.
Bernie Stefan, vice president of Nestle Switzerland’s Asia, Oceania and Africa regions expressed the keenness at a meeting with Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun at its headquarters in Switzerland, said an official release.
They discussed various issues including modernisation of food industries, developing the quality and infrastructures in Bangladesh.
Minister Nurul Majid said now Bangladesh is the best destination in South Asia for the world investors and the government has been establishing 100 economic zones in the country.
He also urged Nestle Switzerland to establish food industries in the economic zones in Bangladesh adding that the government will provide necessary incentives and policy support like other investors.
Bernie Stefan said Nestle Switzerland is keen to work with Bangladesh on partnership basis for the development of industries.
Md Alamgir Kabir, first secretary (commerce) of Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations and Naquib Khan, Nestle Bangladesh Ltd Corporate Affairs director were present.
Secretary General of D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation Ambassador Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari on Thursday said they are taking a number of realistic initiatives under a new roadmap to ensure greater benefits for the member countries with stronger collaboration on all fronts.
“We want to be realistic,” he said while interacting with diplomatic correspondents with much focus on future initiatives.
Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) arranged the interaction – DCAB Talk – at the auditorium of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in the city. DCAB President Raheed Ejaz and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke at the event.
D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for development cooperation among the following countries - Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
Ambassador Shaari talked elaborately on trade, industry, science and innovations, agriculture, food security, energy security, tourism, climate change and migration issues and shared their plan on how stronger collaboration can benefits the member states.
He said they are also very closely working with private sectors of the member countries.
Responding to a question on Rohingya issue, the D-8 Secretary General said this is a political issue and their focus is on economic cooperation. He, however, said they cannot ignore the Rohingya crisis.
He said Bangladesh will host the 10th D-8 Summit in April next and they are now working on finding a specific date for the event.
The D-8 Secretary General said the Dhaka Deceleration, to be issued after the next Summit, will set the new tone in line with the need towards greater cooperation and collaboration.
Bangladesh will take up the chairmanship of the D-8 in the next Summit from Turkey.
Founded in 1997, the D-8 aims to increase economic cooperation among Member States to boost economic growth, sustain development and promote the wellbeing of their citizens.
The D-8 Secretary General also talked about developing an exclusive D-8 economic zone in Bangladesh to develop a stronger trade and investment relations with D-8 countries.
Bangladesh will formally introduce ePassport on November 28 next, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
While briefing reporters at his office on his recent Europe tour, the Foreign Minister said the relevant authorities have confirmed the date.
Dr Momen said the difficulties of Bangladeshi expatriates in renewing their passports will be over as such ePassport will have a validity period of 10 years.
An ePassport is a biometric passport which includes a chip, which can be used at the automated ePassport gates instead of having passport.
The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page: the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information. In some countries, including Germany, ePassports include two fingerprints as well.
The Department of Immigration and Passports (DIP) was supposed to begin distribution of digital passports, also known as ePassports, from July last to ease immigration.
Bangladesh and Germany signed an agreement on July 19 last year following Dhaka's decision to issue electronic passports alongside the machine readable ones.
Implementation of the project - Introduction of ePassport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh - started in July 2018.
Bangladesh will verify Myanmar’s claim of “voluntary nature” of some Rohingyas to Myanmar as it keeps “spreading misleading information” to the international community to avoid repatriation though record says no Rohingya is taken back.
Sources at the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s (RRRC) office say they are not aware of such voluntary return.
"We'll issue a press statement after verifying the claim," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Thursday.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who have fled their homeland in Rakhine State after being persecuted by their own country.
Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years.
Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar “failed to remove trust deficit” among the Rohingyas and there was “lack of conducive environment” in Rakhine for their return.
The Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka in a Facebook post claimed 46 displaced people returned to Myanmar from Bangladesh on their own volition through Taung Pyo Letwe and Nga Khu Ya Reception Centers on Thursday.
Myanmar claimed that the returnees were warmly received by officials from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, and Ministry of Labour, Population and Immigration, and other officials concerned.
Myanmar also claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar till date and they were duly provided with rice, cooking oil and foodstuff monthly by its Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
Asked about possible relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char from November 15, the Foreign Minister said he does not have any information on that specific date as he just returned home on Wednesday, wrapping up his Europe tour.
"It’s good if they go (to Bhashan Char). I'll be very happy," he said in a separate briefing at his office.
Asked about his talks over Rohingya issue during the Europe tour, Dr Momen said he urged European countries to halt the GSP trade privilege to Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“Let there be a moratorium with a condition that it’ll be withdrawn once the Rohigyas return to Myanmar. Then there would be a pressure (on Myanmar),” said the Foreign Minister who visited Germany, Italy, Greece, and France apart from attending NAM Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan.
He conveyed the European countries that it looks odd that the countries which always talk about human rights and humanitarian issues are doing business and giving the GSP privilege to the country that committed genocide and ethnic cleansing as described by the EU and the United Nations.
On Wednesday, Bangladesh accused Myanmar of remaining engaged in a “persistent campaign” to mislead the international community to avoid its obligations for “sustained repatriation” and reintegration of the Rohingyas.
Dhaka also rejected “baseless accusations, falsification, and misrepresentation of facts” by Nay Pyi Taw, and urged it to stop concocted campaign and concentrate on the fulfillment of its obligations.
“Myanmar must act decisively to address the real causes that are preventing the displaced Rohingya from going back voluntarily,” said the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry.
The ministry said it was a “matter of utter dismay” to witness such tenacious campaign with fabricated information, misrepresentation of facts, unsubstantiated claims and undue accusations on part of Myanmar to mislead the international community.
Bangladesh said Myanmar should seriously consider a comprehensive participation of the international community in creating conducive environment for the return as well as in the monitoring of repatriation and reintegration process.
“Myanmar should also cooperate with the international community to eliminate the culture of impunity for the sake of a durable solution to the protracted problem,” the Foreign Ministry said.