Uzra Zeya reiterates US' hope for 'peaceful, fair' election process
US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya has reiterated her country's hope for a "peaceful, free and fair" elections process in Bangladesh.
"We look forward to robust discussions with the government on a host of issues, humanitarian cooperation, the elections process, and I think our hope for a peaceful, free and fair elections process," she told the Hindustan Times in an interview before her arrival in Dhaka.
Zeya also mentioned about the nexus between Bangladesh's economic progress and prosperity, which has been the subject of a very substantial and multi-decade development partnership, and the critical role of respect for labour rights and freedom of association towards achieving Bangladesh's ambitions.
She said they share a convergent approach and commitment with their Indian friends, through new groupings such as the Quad, to support a free and open Indo-Pacific that is "more prosperous, more secure, more connected, more inclusive, more resilient."
"I can't go into too much detail on our diplomatic discussions, but certainly this is integral to regional peace and security and stability, another shared vocation for both of our governments," Zeya said.
Responding to a question on the new visa policy for Bangladesh, the US under secretary said that is absolutely intended to support free and fair elections, which the US thinks are critical for every democracy, but are essential for democracies to be able to thrive.
Also read: US doesn't consider it interference when other countries discuss its elections: State Dept
Zeya arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday evening to discuss shared humanitarian concerns, including the Rohingya refugee crisis, labour issues, human rights, free and fair elections, and combating trafficking in persons.
She said her visit is aimed at advancing "shared solutions" to global challenges; contributing to a more free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific; and bolstering humanitarian support for refugees and host communities throughout the region.
During the visit, she is likely to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Private Industries and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman apart from her meetings with Law and Home Ministers and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, a diplomatic source told UNB.
She met Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Muhammad Imran in Washington on Thursday and they had a "productive" discussion.
"Thank you, Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Muhammad Imran for a productive discussion on democracy, human rights, fair labour practices and humanitarian cooperation. I look forward to deepening our strong partnership," she tweeted.
Zeya leads global diplomatic efforts to strengthen democracy, advance universal human rights, support refugees and humanitarian relief, promote rule of law and counternarcotics cooperation, fight corruption and intolerance, prevent armed conflict, and eliminate human trafficking.
US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu and Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Asia, USAID Änjali Kaur are part of the delegation, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Secretary Masud Momen said Zeya is a relatively senior US official and her mandated area is quite wide.
Dhaka witnessed a series of visits from Washington in the recent past, including a visit by Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, on March 19-23, 2022.
Donald Lu also visited Bangladesh earlier this year. Lu has been heavily involved in setting Washington's Bangladesh policy in the recent past.
After the new visa policy was officially announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 25, Lu appeared as the public face of the move, making appearances in Bangladeshi media to explain how it would be implemented.
Meanwhile, in a weekly media briefing at the Foreign Ministry, Director General (Additional Charge) of Public Diplomacy Wing Mohammad Rafiqul Alam said the visit of the US delegation led by Uzra Zeya is basically an effort to advance the friendly relations between the two countries and strengthen the communication further.
The US delegation will also visit Rohingya camps on Wednesday apart from their engagements at various levels.