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Dhaka, Washington agree to deepen ties, expand trade

Staff Reporter:

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday said Dhaka and Washington have agreed to deepen bilat-eral ties, work together on expanding trade and tackle terrorism and fanaticism.
“We (Bangladesh and the US) have expressed our willingness to work together to deepen our ties, to increase our cooperation in expanding business and tackle anti-terrorism and fanaticism,” he told report-ers.
The minister briefed journalists after his meeting with the US ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and European Union Ambassador Charles Whiteley at his office at the foreign ministry here.
Replying to a question, the minister said that they had discussed oil exploration in the Bay of Bengal as an American company discovered the potentiality of oil reserves on Bangladesh’s offshore.
“We have discussed that Bangladesh will be economically benefited if such oil reserves are extracted,” he added.
During the meeting, the foreign minister said the US ambassador neither raised the election issue nor made any questions about polls.
However, the minister said, he himself briefed the US envoy about the arson attacks carried out by BNP activists before the January 7th free and fair election that saw a good voters’ turn-out.
Mahmud conveyed to the US ambassador that around 42 percent of votes were cast, and it could have been 10 percent more if there was no fog and cold.
The minister said he thanked Haas as election observers from the US oversaw Bangladesh’s national elec-tion. The observers from the US and other countries found the polls free and fair.
“There were different opinions from different countries regarding the elections. But, the important factor is they are working with the new (Bangladesh) government. We are working together to advance our relations ahead … we talked about the matter, and we had a very fruitful discussion,” said the foreign minister.
Regarding the current status on withdrawal of the US sanctions on RAB, Mahmud said, they discussed the issue, “We have been working on that”.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh and the US have cooperation in the defence area, and they have discussed the issue.
Mahmud said they also discussed the Rohingya issue and reiterated Dhaka’s urge to Washington to sup-port the commencement of repatriation of displaced people from Bangladesh to Myanmar.
“They (US) have been providing support to this (Rohingya) issue since the beginning, and we agreed to work together in the future,” he said.
The minister said Bangladesh wants Rohingyas to return to their homeland in Myanmar with citizen fa-cilities.
Earlier, after emerging from the meeting, US Ambassador Peter Haas said Washington will work closely with the new Bangladesh government in the areas of commerce, climate change and Rohingya issue in the coming days.
“We talked about the future of Bangladesh-US relationship and how we will work together on issues of mutual important areas such as expanding business opportunities and Rohingyas” he said.
Hass did not take any questions from the journalists.

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