The United States reiterated that the country would stand by Bangladesh in finding a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis and reassured that the one million plus forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals have to return home without any form of fear and persecution.
Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo said this when Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen met him in Washington on Monday.
Pompeo lauded Bangladesh's generosity in continuing to host one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, and emphasised how they would work with the international community to increase support for the refugees and host communities, while addressing root causes and conditions in Myanmar, according to a press statement of the US Department of State.
“The secretary underscored that responsibility for resolution of the Rohingya refugee crisis rests with Burma [Myanmar], which must create the necessary conditions for voluntary repatriation,” said Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the state department.
The secretary also emphasised the importance of advancing good governance, transparency, and democratic values, as Bangladesh continues its emergence as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific.
They discussed increasing economic, security and counterterrorism cooperation between Dhaka and Washington. This was the first meeting between the two leaders since their assumption of office in respective governments.
In a press statement, Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC said issues featuring in the meeting were: repatriation of the Rohingyas and creation of credible international pressure on Myanmar in that respect, deportation of Bangabandhu's killer Rashed Chowdhury from the US to Bangladesh, shared vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, US investments in Bangladesh, duty and quota free access of Bangladesh's garments products in the US market and US-Bangladesh partnership in multiple sectors.
During the meeting, Foreign Minister Momen said Bangladesh at its own expense developed the island, “Bhashanchar”, into a livable place in which one lakh Rohingyas are planned to be relocated in coordination with UN agencies and different aid groups.
He sought US support to the creation of a safe zone in Rakhine State monitored by international human rights groups.
Regarding deportation of Rashed Chowdhury, the foreign minister pointed out that he is fleeing justice.
“This is essential to carry out a vital common agenda of both countries pertaining to counterterrorism and countering-violent extremism and upholding the rule of law,” he said.
Both leaders agreed that for greater prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, vital energy and infrastructure projects need to be implemented on regional partnership basis. In that respect, leaders of the region need to work together on issues such as governance, accountability, the rule of law and maritime security, the statement said.
Momen sought more investment from the US in the oil and gas sector and the US's presence in the special economic zones.
He also sought US support to the candidature of Bangladesh in the upcoming election to the post of deputy director general of International Organization for Migration.
Later in the day, Momen held meetings with senior officials of the US State Department and Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman.