US pushes for transparent probe of polls irregularities

US pushes for transparent probe of polls irregularities

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Voicing disappointment both at irregularities in the city polls and BNP’s boycott midway through, a top US official here on Friday said everyone needs to focus on a transparent investigation into those irregularities making sure that the next election is highly improved.
“I think where everyone needs to focus on [that]to have a transparent investigation into those irregularities making sure that the next election is highly improved. This is very important for democracy,” said US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.She said they remain focused on a long-term solution that accommodates all parties and allows the Bangladeshi people to peacefully express their views.
Sherman was talking to journalists at a crowded press conference at State Guesthouse Meghna on the outcome of the two-day fourth Partnership Dialogue between Bangladesh and the USA.
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Rear Admiral (retd) M Khurshed Alam, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal, US Ambassador Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, Foreign Ministry DG (Americas) Muhammad Mahfuzur Rahman and DG (EP) S Bodiruzzaman were present.
The Foreign Secretary said they discussed issues of three broad areas — development and governance; trade and investment and security cooperation in the discussion.
“We’re extremely happy as the meeting was held in a very productive manner. Many issues came up for discussion,” he said.
On investment issues, Sherman said companies such as Chevron and Coca-Cola are among the many US businesses looking to invest in Bangladesh.
“We’re very supportive of increased investment, and we’re confident that level-playing field in Bangladesh will attract even more US businesses,” she said.
Sherman said the US is eager to work with Bangladesh to help raise incomes and livelihoods in Bangladesh by connecting the growing economies of South and Southeast Asia.
“We think Bangladesh has near-unlimited potential to transform both itself and its region, and we are excited to be your strong partner in reaching that potential,” she said.
Going back to issues discussed, Sherman said they have broadened the discussion to include an emphasis on the environment, health and infectious diseases, and the blue (maritime) economy.
She also said two moderate, pluralistic nations can work together to advance common goals in development, trade, security and regional integration.
Terming relations with Bangladesh strong, deep and vibrant, Sherman said, “We’re working very closely in strengthening our bilateral relationship and support Bangladesh to achieve its economic and social development goals.”
Appreciating Bangladesh’s contribution to the peacekeeping efforts, the US official said Bangladesh’s contribution in peacekeeping is second to none.
She mentioned that in a just few days, they are providing Bangladesh with its second Coast Guard Cutter. “Ambassador Bernicat will deliver the ship to Vice Admiral Habib at a ceremony in California on May 6.”
Sherman said the US is increasing its security cooperation and Bangladesh is already a force for global peace and stability. “And with its improving naval capabilities, Bangladesh will become a key maritime security provider in the Bay of Bengal.”
The Under Secretary thinks expanding the country’s investments in women and girls – by preventing early and forced marriage and encouraging girls’ completion of secondary school – will foster broader and more sustainable economic growth.
“Prime Minister Hasina (Sheikh Hasina) has been an outspoken champion of empowering women and girls, and we share the view that a country’s true strength is determined by how well it integrates and its entire population,” she added.
She appreciated progress made in the RMG sector saying ‘much still remains to be done’ as union organisations and leaders still face ‘harassment’ and even ‘physical violence’. – UNB

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