U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton recently welcomed Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni to a meeting in Washington, reaffirming the strong ties between the U.S. and Bangladesh. The U.S., said Secretary Clinton, wants "to work with Bangladesh and other countries in the area to promote regional integration so that there are greater economic opportunities [and] so that many of the problems that prevent the free flow of commerce can be overcome so that the people of the entire region can prosper."
At a reception held by the U.S.-Bangladesh Advisory Council and attended by Foreign Minister Moni and members of the U.S. Congress, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake noted that "Bangladesh is clearly a nation with a bright future." He said the Muslim-majority democracy "is grappling with some of the great issues of our time, including food security, global health, and climate change." Bangladeshis, he said, "have risen to face these challenges head on, cementing their reputation as one of the most resilient and adaptable people on the planet, and a strong partner for the United States."
Bangladesh, he said, has posted an economic growth rate of five to six percent each year for the past two decades, even during the worst years of the global recession. It has transformed "from a country plagued by famine to one that is largely self-sufficient in food production, despite rapid population growth." It has made progress in women's empowerment and in reaching development goals. It is the largest troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping forces, and its non-governmental organizations, including BRAC, have played major roles in civil society development.
Bangladesh, said Assistant Secretary Blake, is a vibrant, open society, with a free and open media, which "must continue to be strengthened and given space to develop." He said the U.S. urges the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that media outlets and NGO's "feel safe to speak their mind and help in each of their unique ways to move the country forward." The U.S., he added, also hopes that the Bangladesh government "will do everything possible to ensure that the effectiveness and integrity of the Grameen Bank are preserved as a new leadership is chosen."
Since 1971, the U.S. has provided over $5 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh and is partnering with Bangladesh to meet challenges ranging from climate change to counter-terrorism.
U.S.-Bangladesh ties are strong and the U.S. wants to make them stronger.