US presses for greater political inclusion

US presses for greater political inclusion

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Appreciating Bangladesh’s achievements in various areas, the United States has said it has kept pressing Bangladesh for a greater political inclusion to ensure a more stable and prosperous future. “In Bangladesh, we continue to press for greater political inclusion, without which, a more stable and prosperous future is put at risk,” said US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal. She made the remark while addressing a programme titled ‘US Foreign Policy in South Asia: A Vision for Prosperity and Security’ at the Harvard University in Boston on Wednesday, according to the US Department of State. Biswal said one must acknowledge the important gains Bangladesh has made in improving the health, food security and economic opportunity for its citizens. She said over the past 20 years, USAID has contributed to a reduction in under-five mortality by 60 percent in Bangladesh. “Bangladesh is the only country where we’re implementing all three of President Obama’s development initiatives – on health, food security, and climate change – and with US assistance Bangladesh is one of the few countries on track to achieve its Millennium Development Goals related to child and maternal mortality,” she said. Biswal mentioned that Bangladesh, in particular, stands to develop tremendous commercial ties with the rest of Asia and has begun to break down trade barriers with India. She also highlighted US’ engagement with Bangladesh in improving labour conditions after the Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen factory fire. “We’ve engaged, along with European partners, in an intense effort with labour, industry, civil society and government to have great improvements in the garment sector in Bangladesh.” On security cooperation, Biswal said US’ security cooperation with both Nepal and Bangladesh has grown over the years, not only on the international peacekeeping front, where both countries are important contributors, but also on border security and counter terrorism. “In Bangladesh, we’re helping prepare for cyclones and have built over 500 cyclone shelters since 2001. We recently transferred a US Coast Guard cutter to the Bangladeshi Navy which has already played a disaster response role,” she added. On US’ engagement with South Asia, the US Assistant Secretary said this is clearly a time of great dynamism across South Asia, with elections and transitions that have been unfolding over the past year and concluding over the next few months. “…while the transition in Afghanistan is the cause of much angst and anxiety, we’re focused on the opportunities and imperative it creates for connecting the economies of South Asia and Central Asia,” she said. On New Silk Road vision, Biswal said they have been focusing their efforts in four key areas – creating regional energy markets that link Central Asia with South Asia, boosting transportation routes and investing in critical infrastructure, improving customs and borders; and linking businesses and people. “On the eastern front of South Asia, with the political transition in Myanmar, we also see a historic opportunity to connect South and South East Asia into an integrated economic landscape,” she said. – UNB

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