Only peaceful, open democratic process to help achieve potential: US

Only peaceful, open democratic process to help achieve potential: US

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs-Designate Thomas A Shannon

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs-Designate Thomas A Shannon

Dhaka – Appreciating Bangladesh’s leadership role in crucial areas, the United States on Sunday said every country, including Bangladesh, can only achieve its full potential when national debates are channeled through ‘peaceful and open democratic process’.
“Municipal elections are coming up later this month and I hope everyone will make the most of this opportunity to reaffirm Bangladesh’s commitment to democracy,” said visiting US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs-Designate Thomas A Shannon.
He was addressing a seminar on the ‘US-Bangladesh Relationship: Working Together on Global Issues’. Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies (BIISS) arranged the event with its Chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmed in the chair.
Shannon, the current Counselor of the US Department of State, said they are working towards a common vision to support a Bangladesh that is ‘inclusive, prosperous and secure’.“Violent extremists and terrorists don’t share that vision. They wish for a Bangladesh that is divided, weakened and chaotic. They want to destroy centuries-long traditions of religious tolerance and communal harmony,” said the US diplomat.
Referring to acts of violent extremists and terrorists, Shannon said Bangladesh and the US share a ‘common vulnerability’ to this threat. “…but we also share a firm resolve to defeat it.”
Reviewing the cooperation between the two countries, the US diplomat said both the countries have accomplished ‘much together’. “But there’s much more to be done. Together we must continue to create a future where our children can grow up healthy and educated.”
He laid emphasis on the exercise of citizens’ rights and freedoms without ‘fear of harm’ and mentioned that it will have to be made sure that all can live together in peace.
Emphasising the importance of working together, Shannon said the past 40 years have shown that Bangladesh and the US can accomplish ‘amazing things’ when they work together whether it is climate change, security, women’s empowerment or development.
“And the next 40 years will be no different, because our partnership is one whose strength, resilience, and potential will only grow with time,” he added.
Adding few words with what Ted Kennedy said 44 years, Shannon said America still cares – about that there can be no doubt. “And to his timeless address I would simply add: Bangladesh matters.”
He said Bangladesh is also an example to the world when it comes to fighting climate change. “We hope to work with Bangladesh to build better warning systems and crisis management centers, further reducing the impact of severe storms and extreme weather.”
The US diplomat said Bangladesh is a country the world keenly listens to whether on peacekeeping, climate change or counter terrorism. “And Bangladeshis are some of the most resilient, ambitious and entrepreneurial people on this planet.”
Appreciating Bangladesh’s growth in RMG sector, the US diplomat said it is important to build a strong and respected ‘Brand Bangladesh’ where workers’ right and safety are protected.
He said empowered workers are better positioned to ensure their own safety and are more productive – which means greater efficiency, larger output, higher profits, and most importantly can be linked to higher standards of living and more inclusive economic growth.
Appreciating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership role, the US diplomat said Bangladesh has made enormous strides in gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“Much of Bangladesh’s success come from making women central to its development agenda,” he said adding that there are still tremendous gains to be made from reducing gender-based violence and ending early and forced marriages.
He said Bangladesh also has long been a leader in regional connectivity, and can become a top economy in South Asia, a manufacturing powerhouse and hub for the movement of goods and people among the countries of South and Southeast Asia.
The US diplomat said the United States will continue to drive Bangladesh’s economic growth. “We’re already one of Bangladesh’s largest foreign investors and our two-way trade has grown steadily, to more than $6 billion.”
He said their soldiers and sailors are training together on land and at sea, and their decades-long peacekeeping partnership with Bangladesh has proven a great success. “Our goal is to help the Bangladeshi military become a lynchpin of regional and global stability.”
Shannon also briefly replied to number questions on future Bangladesh-USA relations, fighting climate challenges, ending gender violence and global and regional issues including refugee issue and laid emphasis on partnership to deal with the issues. ‘Countries working together can resolve problems.’
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and BIISS Director General Maj Gen AKM Abdur Rahman also spoke on the occasion. – Agencies


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