The Policy Times Dhaka Bureau (7 May) :
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen urged the US Ambassador to address the difficulties being faced by a large number of Bangladeshi student visa applicant to obtain visa interview date in the US Embassy in Dhaka, as many may lose admission and scholarship due to the delay.
The Ambassador of the United States in Bangladesh Earl R. Miller called on Dr. Momen yesterday (Thursday 6 May) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh.
The US Ambassador informed that, due to the lockdown situation, many interview slots had to be cancelled, and assured to do the best to ensure that all student visa applicants get interview slots on a priority basis once the lockdown is over, so that they can join their academic sessions in US universities on time.
Appreciating US President Joe Biden’s recent announcement to enhance the admission of refugees in the US to 62,500 in 2021 and 125,000 in 2022, Bangladesh Foreign Minister stated that the US may consider accepting a good number of forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh for filling up a large portion of these new numbers. He also expressed optimism that, the US as the largest humanitarian donor for the humanitarian operations for the forcibly displaced Rohingyas camped in Bangladesh, would continue to provide necessary assistance for Rohingyas including those now settled in Bhashan Char. The US Ambassador informed that, during the upcoming launch of the annual Joint Response Plan (JRP) on 18 May 2021 in Geneva, the US is expected to pledge again for large contribution to the humanitarian operation for Rohingyas. Foreign Minister Momen also assured the US side on Bangladesh’s cooperation on the ongoing investigation on the genocide against Rohingyas in Myanmar, as reinitiated by the Biden Administration.
The main point of discussion was on the process of acquiring AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the US to meet up the growing needs in Bangladesh to address the present shorfall. Foreign Minister Momen underscored that, while the immediate need of Bangladesh is around 4 million doses of vaccine, the US government may consider providing 20 million AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh from its stock. The US Ambassador assured that his government is sincerely working on the proposal, though this is difficult to predict any time frame at this moment. He also informed that the United States is yet to provide any AstraZeneca vaccine to India, and hopefully Bangladesh will get the vaccine at the same time India gets. Bangladesh Foreign Minister emphasized on an early decision. He also welcomed US President Joe Biden’s declaration to support Intellectual Property Waiver for vaccines in the WTO, and expressed optimism that this would enable developing countries, including Bangladesh, to produce US vaccines in near future.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister and the US Ambassador also discussed on the ways and means of bolstering bilateral cooperation, specially in the area of climate change adaptation and mitigation including possible mutual engagement before and during the COP26 of the UNFCCC scheduled in November 2021 in Glasgow, as well as through mutual support in different elections in the UN system including in the UN Human Rights Council.