The United States has assured cooperation to Bangladesh on the issue of Rohingya crisis, the US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
Addressing a reception to mark the 48th Independence Day of Bangladesh at the Bangladesh Embassy here on Wednesday, Nauert said in a statement, "The close bonds between our two countries have never been more essential and Bangladesh's leadership more vital than during this tragic humanitarian crisis".
"To support your efforts, the United States government, in close coordination with the international community, has provided nearly $110 million in humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya and host communities in Bangladesh since last August. We will continue to work hand in hand with you on this issue, not only through the provision of aid, but through sustained support for the voluntary, dignified, and safe return of Rohingya to their homes in Burma (Myanmar)," she added.
Nauert stressed that the cooperation in responding to the Rohingya crisis was the fruit of a strong bilateral relationship with Bangladesh and wished to enhance the relations further.
More than 600,000 refugees are languishing in Bangladeshi refugee camps after fleeing a brutal Myanmar army campaign launched in August last year.
The United Nations had said the scorched-earth operation, which had left hundreds of villages burned to ash in Myanmar's Rakhine state, amounted to 'ethnic cleansing'.
While recalling her visit to a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh in November last year, the US State Department spokesperson underlined that she was deeply moved on seeing the condition of the refugees and was pleased by the people of Bangladesh opening their doors and hearts to the Rohingyas who have fled from Myanmar due to ethnic violence there.
Praising Bangladesh's rapid growth of its economy in the last few years due to US' assistance, Nauert further said, "Decades of US development assistance and private-sector investment have fueled Bangladesh's extraordinary social and economic progress, and US exporters are well positioned to help take Bangladesh's economy to the next level, by delivering the highest quality goods and services in the world."
Nauert's Bangladesh visit was her first overseas visit as the US State Department spokesperson and had participated in the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue in an endeavour to further enhance the bilateral relations between the two countries.
"My participation in tonight's event has special meaning for me as my trip to Bangladesh last November was my first overseas visit as the Department of State's Spokesperson. While there, I participated in the U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue on ways to strengthen and grow our bilateral relationship in such areas as trade and commerce, countering terrorism, development, maritime security, and military cooperation. I also had the chance to meet many of Bangladesh's dynamic young people at the US Embassy's Edward M. Kennedy Center and was struck by their warmth and their friendliness toward the American people," she added.
Nauert said that the US security forces were also partnering closely with their Bangladesh counterparts to ensure regional maritime security, defeat terrorists and to strengthen UN peacekeeping.
She further stressed that as Bangladeshi peacekeepers promote peace and freedom throughout the globe, they follow in the courageous example of the founding father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Recalling her visit to Bangabandhu Museum in Dhaka last year, Nauert had quoted Mujibur Rahman's speech.
She said, "In his (Mujibur Rahman) celebrated speech on March 7, 1971, considered by many to have sparked Bangladesh's independence struggle, Bangladesh's founding father had said, "Whether Bengali or non-Bengali, Hindu or Muslim, all are brothers, and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety. Let us honor his wisdom and spirit and strive together for a peaceful, prosperous Bangladesh where all are considered brothers and sisters and guaranteed their rights, no matter their class, creed, politics, or birthplace"."
Nauert concluded that relations between Dhaka and Washington D.C. would continue to prosper together through trade and investment and has pressed for the former to continue championing the cause of peace and freedom throughout the Indo-Pacific and across the world.
Bangladesh observed its 48th Independence Day on March 26.
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