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US Under Secretary Uzra Zeya in Dhaka to discuss “shared concerns” with Bangladesh

US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya arrived here on Tuesday evening to advance “shared solutions” to global challenges; contribute to a more free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific; and bolster humanitarian support for refugees and host communities throughout the region.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen received Under Secretary Uzra Zeya upon arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas was also present.

In Bangladesh, the Under Secretary will discuss shared humanitarian concerns, including the Rohingya refugee crisis; labor issues; human rights; free and fair elections; and combating trafficking in persons, according to US Department of State.

She will visit the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday as the Rohingya issue remains one of the top priorities of her visit.

The US Under Secretary is likely to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Private Industries and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman apart from her meetings with Law and Home Ministers and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, a diplomatic source told UNB.

The United States has said holding free and fair elections in Bangladesh is a “shared desire” of the two friendly countries.

“It’s a desire that we share as a friend and partner of Bangladesh for over 50 years,” said US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a regular briefing at the State Department on Monday (July 10, 2023).
He noted that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has repeatedly stated her own commitment to free and fair elections.

“I don’t know why anyone would object to us calling for free and fair elections,” Miller said, apparently referring to statements that came from Russia, China and Iranian media.

Miller reiterated that they do not support one political party over the other. “We support a genuine democratic process.”

“We don’t consider it interference in internal affairs when other countries raise our elections process with us. We welcome those discussions as an opportunity to strengthen our democracy, and we don’t know why any other countries would object,” he added.

Asked whether US Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary Donald Lu will engage with the ruling party and the opposition party BNP, Miller said she will meet with senior government officials to discuss shared humanitarian concerns, including the Rohingya refugee crisis, labor issues, human rights, free and fair elections, and combating trafficking in persons.

US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu and Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Asia, USAID Änjali Kaur are part of the US delegation, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Zeya leads global diplomatic efforts to strengthen democracy, advance universal human rights, support refugees and humanitarian relief, promote rule of law and counternarcotics cooperation, fight corruption and intolerance, prevent armed conflict, and eliminate human trafficking.