US Deputy Secy of State Biegun arrives tomorrow | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 13, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, October 13, 2020

US Deputy Secy of State Biegun arrives tomorrow

Dhaka to raise Rohingya repatriation, RMG export issues

The repatriation of Rohingya refugees, privileges for readymade garments export and investments in infrastructure will be the main issues that Bangladesh will raise during US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun's visit beginning tomorrow.

"Rohingya repatriation is our major issue. It is not just our responsibility. They will have to help us," Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his ministry yesterday.

He said the most important thing for Bangladesh is not humanitarian assistance but Rohingya repatriation, which will be stressed upon during the high-placed US official's visit.

Biegun's visit to Bangladesh will be from October 14 to 16 after the first leg of his India visit. During the visit here, he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Momen, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam.

The visit is part of the US's objective of advancing its Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) that aims for a free, secure and rules-based Indo-Pacific.

 Momen said the US will raise their issues and Bangladesh will raise theirs. Apart from the Rohingya repatriation issue, Dhaka will also seek to have a moratorium on tariffs for RMG exports to the US -- the largest market for Bangladeshi RMG -- for two to three years in light of the fallout from the pandemic.

"As the US is deepening its friendship [with Bangladesh], we would like it to invest in infrastructure. The US has no investment in infrastructure development, which we need very much here," he said.

There are also issues about US visas for Bangladeshi students and it will also be raised during the meeting, Momen said.

Asked about Bangladesh's joining the IPS, the minister said Dhaka is ready to join it as long as it is about trade and economy. Dhaka, however, has reluctance on the defense aspects, if any, of the IPS.

Asked about a planned meeting of the US, UK, EU and Japan on the Rohingya issue towards the end of this month, Momen said Dhaka has not been informed of it yet, but heard that they will be discussing sustainable humanitarian support for the Rohingya refugees, their education and improvements in living standards.

"We don't want it. Let them [Rohingya] improve their life back in Rakhine," Momen said, stressing on the quick repatriation of Rohingya refugees.

These countries will also discuss rescue and disembarkation issues of the Rohingya refugees when they undertake journeys on boats, he said.

"We don't buy such ideas. We have seen none of the regional countries accepting the Rohingyas."

He said the Bangladesh government needs to take control of the Rohingya camps and so is installing fences, without which he said crimes like drug trafficking are spiking.

Touching upon Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jimin's call on him on Sunday, the minister said China is also unhappy that the Rohingya repatriation has not started yet despite China having a role in convening a meeting of Bangladesh and Myanmar to advance Rohingya repatriation last year.

China is trying to convene another such meeting soon to discuss Rohingya repatriation, he said.


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