U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher traveled to Bangladesh for meetings with Bangladeshi leaders, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, State Minister Dr. Hassan Mahmud, and leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia.
At a press conference in Dhaka, Assistant Secretary Boucher congratulated the people of Bangladesh on their national election. "I think it set a standard for democracy in Bangladesh, but also more broadly in the region and in countries like your own," he said.
Mr. Boucher said the U.S. is engaged in talks with the new government and the opposition on matters that are important to both nations – to strengthen democracy and the institutions that can protect democracy; the Election Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission, and the Judiciary. These are institutions, said Mr. Boucher, that "surround and protect" democracy and thus ensure the success of future elections.
The world economic crisis poses a challenge for Bangladesh as well as other countries. Assistant Secretary Boucher said the U.S. wants to support Bangladesh's efforts to meet the crisis, with particular emphasis on agriculture and health care.
Security was another important concern discussed by Assistant Secretary Boucher and Bangladeshi leaders. "Your agencies and organizations are working hard to make sure that terrorists can not use this territory, and we'll be doing what we can with them to support them with training and advice and expertise," he said.
Mr. Boucher noted that the administration of President Barack Obama is reviewing some of its policies and looking at new opportunities. "We're starting to talk about areas of climate change where perhaps there are new opportunities for the United States and Bangladesh to cooperate," he said.
The United States, said Assistant Secretary Boucher, is looking forward to working with Bangladeshi leaders "to make progress in ways that serve the needs of the people."