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Assistant Secretary of State for South Central Asia Robert Blake met with Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other Bangladeshi political and civil society leaders to reaffirm the United States' close relations with Bangladesh.
Assistant Secretary Blake said the U.S. welcomes the free, fair, and transparent elections in Bangladesh held last December. "This proves that Bangladeshis want democracy and the United States is proud to have supported this effort," said Mr. Blake.
Assistant Secretary Blake said the U.S. will continue to support Bangladesh as it extends its democratic roots and will help Bangladesh with economic development, education, and humanitarian response to natural disasters. The United States remains the largest market for Bangladesh's exports and the second largest source of remittances. In the area of economic development, the U.S. has nearly doubled assistance to Bangladesh in the aftermath of Cyclone Sir. During 2009 alone, the U.S. will provide $160 million in humanitarian assistance. Assistant Secretary Blake noted that the U.S. also supports efforts by the government of Bangladesh to protect the country from violent extremists.
"President Obama is committed to improving the U.S. relationship with the Muslim world," Mr. Blake said. "In Cairo, he called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." The President's remarks, were well received in Bangladesh, noted Mr. Blake.
Assistant Secretary Blake said the United States looks forward to working with Bangladesh as President Obama "continues building bridges to the Muslim world."