It’s B’desh to decide how polls to be held: Sherman

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Voicing her optimism over a credible and inclusive polls here, visiting US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R Sherman on Monday said it is Bangladesh to decide how the election will be held.

“That’s really a decision for Bangladesh. It’s wonderful to see the vibrancy of democracy and we look forward for a free, fair, inclusive and credible election,” she told reporters at a joint press conference when asked about the polls-time government.

Insisted why she is so optimistic over credible polls despite a gap between the country’s two major parties, the US top official said, “My optimism is because I’ve seen what Bangladesh has done since its independence.”

Every time and every turn of the year, Sherman said, the people of Bangladesh have chosen democracy and chosen to make progress, even make it stronger and better. “The US democracy is of more than 200 years…we still try every year to get better.”

She laid emphasis on smooth participation of individual voters in exercising their votes saying individual voters make things different.

Foreign Minister M Shahidul Haque, US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose W Fernandez, US Ambassador Dan Mozena and Foreign Ministry DG (EP) M Shameem Ahsan were, among others, were present.

Responding to a question on Ticfa and GSP, Sherman said that is on process. “That’s the decision and has its own process taking place in Washington…it’ll be decided sometimes in June. That’s all I have to say today.”

Regarding Ticfa (Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement) the US official said, “This is a way to further deepening our relations. Both the governments are committed to deepening economic relations.”

Asked when Ticfa will be signed, she said, “Ticfa is only one of the mechanisms in deepening our relationship. We’ve so many mechanisms in doing so.”

On the role of buyers in improving work conditions and safety, Sherman said absolutely buyers have very critical role, and they must be engaged. “We’ll continue to work together in everyway (to get buyers role).

She said everyone has a role to play and it will have to make sure that the tragedy does not visit Bangladesh again. “At the end of the day, it’s the government to take the lead role…efforts to that end must sustain in order to resolve all the problems.”

Earlier, Sherman and Haque co-chaired the second Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue in the city on May 26-27.

The co-chairs of the Partnership Dialogue highlighted the robust and growing bilateral ties between the United States and Bangladesh, a relationship based on shared values and common goals of the two countries and their people, including the vibrant Bangladeshi-American diaspora.

They reaffirmed their commitment to further broaden, deepen and strengthen the partnership.

The co-chairs and their delegations engaged productively on a wide range of topics, including democracy and governance, trade and investment, security cooperation, and regional integration.

Throughout her meetings in Dhaka, Under Secretary Sherman stressed the importance of an inclusive democratic process and free, fair and credible elections.

The co-chairs acknowledged Bangladesh’s leadership role in promoting greater connectivity in the region and discussed the security landscape in the region, including Afghanistan and Myanmar.

In the context of regional security, they recognised that free movement of ideas, goods and people enhances regional peace and prosperity, according to a joint statement on the partnership dialogue.

They noted the productive meetings of the dialogue and reviewed the continued collaboration in countering terrorism, counterterrorism, security assistance, UN peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance.

The co-chairs recognised the vital and active role Bangladesh plays in ensuring security and stability, regionally and globally.

They claimed that the Partnership Dialogue was held in a warm and cordial environment and agreed to hold the third dialogue in Washington in 2014.

Sherman announced the creation of a $2 million programme, as part of President Obama’s Global Health initiative, to improve the management of deadly tuberculosis through the private health sector in Bangladesh.

Funded through USAID, this programme will improve the detection and treatment of tuberculosis in private sector hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies, said a US embassy release.

Sherman announced the creation of a new five-year, $8 million programme award as part of President Obama’s Global Climate Change initiative to the World Bank to expand the use of solar energy in Bangladesh.

Under this Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy II program, USAID is contributing to the installation of solar home systems, power grids, and irrigation pumps.

The US is funding an assessment to measure point source emissions of black carbon (soot) from select industrial sites across the country, it said.

This assessment, also part of President Obama’s Global Climate Change initiative, complements US-Bangladesh collaboration on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, of which the United States and Bangladesh are founding members.

USAID has launched a new three-year, $7 million programme to improve the economic and nutritional status of 100,000 people in southern Bangladesh.

This horticulture activity, launched under President Obama’s Global Food Security initiative, will expand the production and consumption of a variety of local vegetables, increase the use of integrated pest management practices, and expand cold chain systems.

The opening of an American Business Corner at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry which will be a repository of literature, data, and catalogues to promote US-Bangladesh business ties.

She also referred to the inauguration of a $1 million US assistance programme for law enforcement capacity building to combat transnational crime and terrorism.

Additionally, Under Secretary Sherman welcomed the start of a bilateral energy dialogue and announced ongoing work by both governmentsto outline investment opportunities through the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative.

Sherman and Haque announced that the United States and Bangladesh are close to finalizing an accord to extend our 2003 Agreement on Scientific and Technological (S&T) Cooperation for another decade, building upon the robust level of S&T collaboration between our two countries under the existing agreement.

She underscored the continued commitment of the US government to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations in the Bangladesh-Burma border region.

She was accompanied to the meetings by US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan  Mozena, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Karen Hanrahan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Kelly Clements, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Robert Ichord, Principal Director to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and South East Asia Brigadier General Joaquin Malavet, and State Department Political and Military Affairs Office Director Vangala Ram and USAID Director Richard Greene.

Sherman also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, and participated in a roundtable discussion with government, labor, owners and buyers on labor issues in the garment sector.

Source: UNBconnect

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