U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake told reporters recently in Dhaka that "Bangladesh plays an important role in furthering peace and stability, both within its borders and across the region."
Bangladesh is the world's number one contributor to United Nations' peacekeeping operations. BRAC, Bangladesh's largest and most renowned non-governmental organization, is playing a significant role in alleviating poverty in Afghanistan. Bangladesh's world-renowned research facility, the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research-Bangladesh [ICDDR-B], dispatched a team of cholera experts to Haiti to help that country deal with a deadly cholera outbreak.
"In addition to these efforts," Assistant Secretary Blake continued, "Bangladesh is the only country in the world that is a partner with the United States in all of President [Barack] Obama’s signature initiatives -- global health, food security, global climate change, and engagement with Muslim communities."
The United States is actively interested in combating terrorism in all parts of the world, including South Asia. "We’ve been very encouraged by the progress that Bangladesh and India have made over the last two years under the leadership of the current government," said Assistant Secretary Blake. He applauded "the priority that Sheikh Hasina’s government has attached to greater cooperation with India. One of the very first steps she took after becoming prime minister was to re-establish close ties with India, and that included very close counter-terrorist ties."
"I think that [the Bangladesh] government has been successful in trying to address terrorism through border security efforts," Assistant Secretary Blake added, "but also through ... softer measures."
Secretary Blake commended Bangladesh for having the freest and fairest elections of its history in 2008, and for its open civil society, with a vigorous and free media: "[F]or the very first time in South Asia’s history, all of the governments are democratically elected ... including Bhutan and the Maldives, the two most recent examples." Assistant Secretary Blake concluded by raising Grameen Bank and his interest in safeguarding the Nobel Prize –winning institution's future integrity and effectiveness, and maintaining the high quality of leadership the organization has had in the past.