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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a pleasure to have Foreign Minister Momen here and to be able to work together on strengthening more the partnership between the United States and Bangladesh.  We are in fact celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations.  And even as we think back on those 50 years, we’re really looking ahead to the start of the next 50 and the work that we can do together, as I said, to strengthen our partnership.

Bangladesh has been a leader in rallying other countries to deal with the climate crisis that the planet is facing.  We deeply appreciate that, and we’re working closely together as well on COVID-19, and we’re proud to have been able to contribute through COVAX some 61 million vaccine doses to Bangladesh.

In turn, Bangladesh of course is showing extraordinary humanity and generosity in hosting nearly 1 million Rohingya who have had to flee persecution in Burma.  We’re grateful for that, and the work that you’ve done as one of the strongest supporters of UN peacekeeping around the world, and many other things as well.  But we’ll have an opportunity today to discuss the work we’re doing together bilaterally in the region and indeed even globally.

So Mr. Minister, welcome.  It’s very good to have you.  We look forward to the conversation ahead.

FOREIGN MINISTER MOMEN:  Thank you.  Thank you, Excellency.  Thank you for giving me time and this meeting with my colleagues.  And also I’m thankful to you for committing 61 million of the vaccines – the highest among all the countries.  I think Bangladesh is the number one in terms of receiving the vaccine.  And also in addition, the 31 million for the recent economic assistance.  And I also thank you because you have declared the genocide in Myanmar, and we’re so happy you did.  I hope there will be some repatriation of these persecuted people.

And I’m very pleased that today – the other day we received a letter from President Biden.  And it is an excellent letter.  It helps what we want to do.  It talks about the last 50 years; we have done a remarkable achievement.  And U.S. has been always a friend of Bangladesh, during our bad times and our good times.  And we look forward for a bright future, and that’s why I’m here.

And also I would like to say that over the last 50 years, Bangladesh really achieved many – a lot of achievements.  We were known to be a bottomless basket, but now we have a vibrant economy, a land of opportunity.  And the U.S. has been a great partner and friend; over the years   you have supported that, and U.S.-Bangladesh will be – your achievement in Bangladesh will be magnified because the U.S. efforts helped us all the way.

But Bangladesh is doing pretty well.  The U.S. is our – the biggest trading partner, and also accumulated – the investments in Bangladesh, the U.S. is the largest.  But most of the investment has been in the energy sector.  Maybe it is time to look beyond that.  And I am looking forward for more enhanced and solid – rock-solid relationship with the United States of America.

And I always have some indebtedness to you because when I was homeless, jobless, and stateless, it is USA that provided me a home and a job, and I am thankful for that.

Thank you.  Thank you, Excellency.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Mr. Minister.  Thank you all.

U.S. Department of State

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