The Policy Times Dhaka Bureau (17 May) :
The US Ambassador in Bangladesh Earl R Miller called on State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam today in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They exchanged views on global and bilateral issues, including the launching of the annual Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the humanitarian operations for displaced Rohingyas, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the COVID situation and vaccine issue etc.
The US Ambassador informed that the US would again be the largest contributor in the JRP for Rohingyas, which will be virtually launched tomorrow and will be attented by State Minister Md. Shahriar Alam. He also stated that the US would continue its support to Bangladesh in bearing the burden of the displaced population. The State Minister emphasized that sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas remains as the priority of Bangladesh, and also emphasized on receiving international support for the displaced Rohingyas relocated to Bhashan Char.
State Minister Alam expressed Bangladesh’s deep concern about the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and reiterated Bangladesh’s position that the UN Security Council needs to take up the issue, as stated by Bangladesh Foreign Minister in OIC Executive Committee meeting recently. He urged the US to take proactive role for stopping the bloodshed immediately. He also reiterated Bangladesh’s support for the two-state solution.
Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs urged for providing timely visa interview slots for Bangladeshi students intending to go to the US for studies, observing that a large number of students are facing difficulties. The US Ambassador assured that they are working on resolving the backlog created by the lockdown situation.
The State Minister also observed that the recently published report by the US Government on religious freedom in Bangladesh did not well reflect the ground scenario, as the Government is making its best efforts to ensure communal harmony and non-discrimination in the country. Recalling that the present Government has introduced the Vested Property Return (Amendment) Act in 2011 under difficult situation, he emphasized on the Government’s sincerity to resolve the issue. He also underscored that the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty in 1997 was also signed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Government, and the implementation of the Treaty is being held gradually. He opined that the examples in the Report are discrete incidents and action has been taken by the Government against the perpetrators.
State Minister and the US Ambassador also discussed on ongoing cooperation between two countries in combating COVID-19 pandemic, including the issue of providing vaccine for meeting Bangladesh’s immediate needs. The US Ambassador informed that his Government is working on this, and he has recommended having a regional approach in South Asia in distributing vaccines from the US. He also informed that the US Government is exploring the possibilities to produce US vaccines in Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies.