Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has reiterated the government's commitment towards strengthening institutions and noted significant works over the last few years creating scope for free, fair and transparent elections.
“We had some difficulties but in the last few years, we’ve done very well,” he said, referring to the establishment of all the institutions which are necessary for “free, fair and transparent” elections.
Minister Momen made the remarks while addressing a seminar titled “Bangladesh and the United States Relations: Moving towards Enhanced Cooperation and Partnership” organized by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at the BIISS auditorium on Sunday.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas attended the event as special guest in which he highlighted three areas ripe for growth in the bilateral relationship - security, human rights and democracy, and economic ties.
During his visit to Washington DC recently, the Foreign Minister highlighted the “vibrant democratic practices” that are ongoing in the country.
In fact, he said, the recently adopted law on the formation of the Election Commission is a good manifestation of the Government's goodwill and determination to hold a free and fair election.
Altogether, Bangladesh says, it remains open to discuss all issues in the good governance and human rights domain.
Bangladesh and the US are committed to enhance the relations to a higher plateau in coming years, as was reflected in deliberations during Momen’s visit to Washington DC.
US Ambassador Haas has said the US will not take any side in the upcoming elections in Bangladesh and reiterated US commitment across the world to help countries strengthen democracy.
“Let me be clear: the United States will not pick a side in the upcoming elections. We simply hope for a democratic process that allows the Bangladeshi people to freely decide who will run their country,” he said.
While delivering his speech, Momen said anyone who wants to come and observe the election is welcome.
He referred to the last election in his constituency which was observed by former US Ambassador Earl Miller who did not find anything wrong.
The Foreign Minister also invited the US Ambassador Haas and his team to observe the coming elections as they are keen to improve any weaknesses or any gap.
Momen noted that the US has been an important partner in Bangladesh’s journey towards development.
Noting that the Indo-Pacific Strategy is one of the key initiatives in Asia and the Pacific, he hoped that Bangladesh and the USA will work together to make this region a peaceful one and create a conducive environment that will bring benefits for all countries.
The seminar was chaired by BIISS Chairman Ambassador Kazi Imtiaz Hossain while its Director General Major General Mohammad Maksudur Rahman delivered the welcome remarks.
Prof Ruksana Kibria of Department of International Relations at DU talked on the topic titled “The evolving Bangladesh- US relations” while Brig. General (Retd.) Dr M Sakhawat Hossain, Senior Fellow, South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance, North-South University and former Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, made a presentation on “Bangladesh-US Partnership for Enhanced Security in South Asia”.
Ambassador Humayun Kabir, President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) talked about “Contemporary Dynamics of Bangladesh-US relations and the Way Forward.”
The presentations were followed by the remarks of designated discussant Ambassador Tariq A. Karim, Director, Center for Bay of Bengal Studies, Independent University Bangladesh.
Maksudur Rahman said that after the establishment of diplomatic ties on 04 April 1972, Bangladesh-US relations have gradually evolved into a partnership which has multidimensional aspects including trade, energy cooperation, infrastructure development, ICT, human resource development, security cooperation, etc.
Despite growing cooperation, there arose some issues which, according to him, can be resolved through continuous dialogues and discussions.
Kazi Imtiaz Hossain said Bangladesh-US relations have come a long way which is based on bilateral cooperation, mutual trust and respect for each other.
The solid foundation of diplomatic relations between the two countries gives a glimpse of a prosperous future in coming decades, he said.
Hossain acknowledged the support of the US to Bangladesh in managing the Rohingya crisis since 2017 which helped the latter in providing life-saving assistance to over a million Rohingyas.
He, however, called for more support from the US in normalizing the situation in Myanmar and thereby creating an environment for safe repatriation of the Rohingyas.
Senior officials from different ministries of government, ambassadors and high commissioners, former diplomats, senior military officials, media, academia, representatives from different international organizations and students from different universities participated in the seminar.