Washington: Asserting that a democratic, stable and prosperous Bangladesh will benefit the entire region, a top US diplomat nominated by President Joe Biden as his envoy to Dhaka has told lawmakers that America appreciates the generosity of the Sheikh Hasina government for hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees.
Peter D Haas, during his confirmation hearing for the US envoy to Bangladesh on Wednesday, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the US has been a reliable friend to and partner with Bangladesh for nearly five decades.
A democratic, stable and prosperous Bangladesh will benefit the entire region, and if confirmed, I will advance policies that will enhance our relationship with Bangladesh and promote a free, open, interconnected, resilient and secure region, he said.
The two countries have worked together on economic development, peacekeeping, tackling the climate crisis, public health and finding durable solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis, He said.
Our two nations also share a commitment to democratic values. Our people-to-people ties continue to grow and help to deepen our cooperation. If confirmed, I will be a tireless advocate for America’s interests and values and broadening our partnership with Bangladesh.
For the people of Bangladesh to realise their full potential, they must also be free to express themselves. The Department of State has long been committed to promoting the free operation of media, civil society organisations, workers and members of opposition political parties in Bangladesh without fear of retribution or harm, Haas said.
The diplomat said that he intends to continue the department’s work to bolster full democratic participation in advance of the 2023 national elections and to urge the government to protect and defend human rights.
The United States appreciates the generosity of Bangladesh for hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Burma (Myanmar). The United States has supported Bangladesh as the largest international donor in the humanitarian assistance response, he said.
If confirmed, Haas said he will continue the US government’s work to promote the voluntary, safe, dignified return of Rohingya refugees in coordination with Bangladesh and the international community, while continuing to advocate for the protections of the human rights of all Rohingya, wherever they may be.
Observing that economic development, climate and health are important cornerstones of the US-Bangladesh relationship, he said their economic ties are strong and growing, demonstrated by the establishment of the US-Bangladesh Business Council this year.
US private sector investment supports Bangladesh’s economic development goals by bringing US technologies and know-how and promoting transparency, inclusion and market-based reforms, he said.
The US is also committed to helping Bangladesh recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Through COVAX, the US has donated 11.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Bangladesh to date and has committed to providing additional vaccine donations in the coming months, Haas added.
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