Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Trade, economy, security UK’s major focus as Bangladesh eyes stronger ties

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-01-12 02:41:25 BdST

Trade, economic and security cooperation will be the major focus of Britain’s relations with Bangladesh in the coming days as Dhaka eyes to take the ties to a new level.

Dhaka and London have discussed a proposal on jointly celebrating the 50 years of Bangladesh-UK relations in 2021. This was hallmarked by the warm welcoming of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by the then British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath during Bangabandhu's historic homecoming to Dhaka en route London in January 1972.

The discussions were held when newly appointed Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem met Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field at his office in London on Thursday.

This was the first meeting with any British minister after the new Awami League government took office in Dhaka.

“UK attaches high importance to Bangladesh and a major focus of UK's relations with Bangladesh in the coming days will be to strengthen trade, economic and security cooperation," Field was quoted by the London mission as saying in the meeting.

Tasneem renewed the commitment of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina  “to take Bangladesh-UK relations to a fresh level of strategic and economic partnership”, the Bangladesh High Commission said.

She expressed her own resolve “to unfold new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation in Bangladesh-UK relations".

The British minister recalled his recent Bangladesh visits and reaffirmed his personal commitment to deepen UK-Bangladesh ties especially given his longstanding engagements with the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh and the British-Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK.

He commended Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for including younger generation of politicians in her new cabinet following the Dec 30 general elections. The minister also hoped to see Bangladesh move forward towards greater growth and prosperity.

Tasneem told him that a major focus of her tenure in the UK would be on increasing and diversifying Bangladesh’s bilateral trade with the UK, attracting greater British investments in mega infrastructure projects, energy, IT and services sectors in Bangladesh, and enhancing strategic level cooperation including in defence, security and regional connectivity.

The high commissioner also put forward a number of proposals towards creating a strong and vibrant culture and sports connectivity between the two Commonwealth nations, especially through cricket, football, curry industry and the talented new generations of the British-Bangladeshi community in the UK.

Field too lauded the extraordinary educational achievements of successive generations of British-Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK, including those from his own constituency.

He reiterated UK’s deep appreciation for Hasina’s humanitarian support and her giving refuge to nearly 1.1 million ‘Rohingya minority from Myanmar.

The UK Minister underlined the need for 'their voluntary, dignified, viable and sustainable return' through involvement of UN agencies.

The British minister reiterated that his country would continue to play its leadership role in UN Security Council and bilaterally with Bangladesh in ensuring prevention of human rights violations and alleged ‘genocide’ of Rohingyas in Myanmar.

He also commended Bangladesh for its leading role in UN peacekeeping and recognised the sacrifices made around the world by fallen peacekeepers from Bangladesh.