Under Secretary Uzra Zeya’s Press Availability Following Her Meetings with Government of Bangladesh Officials

(As prepared)

Thank you, Foreign Secretary Momen, for your kind hospitality. I was pleased to meet today with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Law Minister Anisul Huq, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, and Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen to discuss the excellent partnership our two nations have built over the last five decades. The United States looks forward to deepening our engagement with Bangladesh over the next 50 years and beyond.  Our cooperation on climate change, development, the economy, humanitarian assistance, and security shows the range of our strong partnership and future potential.

During today’s meetings, I expressed the gratitude of the United States to Bangladesh for hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, which I visited yesterday.  The United States has provided more than $2.1 billion in humanitarian assistance to support refugees and host communities in Bangladesh and the region since August 2017.  To that end, I’m proud to announce that the United States is providing more than $74 million in additional funding to support humanitarian response efforts in Burma and Bangladesh. This includes nearly $61 million to support Rohingya internally displaced in Burma as well as Rohingya refugees living here in Bangladesh, and Bangladeshi host community members. The United States urges continued support by other donors and potential donors, and we support efforts to create the conditions for the eventual safe, dignified, informed, and voluntary return of Rohingya – conditions that do not currently exist.

In my meetings with Government of Bangladesh partners today, we also discussed the need for free and fair elections; the ability of journalists to report the news without fear of retaliation or intimidation; collaboration to combat trafficking in persons; and the vital role civil society plays in democracies advancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including labor rights and freedoms of expression and association.  A prosperous future depends on strong democratic institutions and the broad participation of Bangladeshis in elections and the governance of their country.  The United States looks forward to continued collaboration supporting an inclusive, democratic Bangladesh in which all Bangladeshis can thrive.