Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, who is now in Europe for a bilateral meeting with his British counterpart Dominic Raab, on Monday called upon the UK to remove Bangladesh from its coronavirus "red list."
"Given Bangladesh's robust vaccine roll-out and significant reductions in coronavirus infection to 9.82% and the sufferings of more than 7,000 British-Bangladeshis currently stranded in Bangladesh, the UK should consider removing Bangladesh from the Covid-19 red-list countries," he said at the meeting held virtually.
In reply, Raab assured that the UK would review the matter and his government is well aware of decreasing Covid-19 infections in Bangladesh, a press release stated on Tuesday.
"I would like to assure you that given the long-standing friendship between our two countries, and based on more frequent genomic sequencing data-uploading by Bangladesh, the British Government will review Bangladesh's red-list," the British foreign secretary of state said.
However, he said, such decisions are reviewed by public health experts on a regular basis.
During their first official bilateral meeting, the two foreign ministers reaffirmed the historic and value-based relations between Bangladesh and the UK since Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971.
They agreed to jointly celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relations through the exchange of high-level visits and charting an ambitious and ever-expanding Bangladesh-UK post-Brexit strategic partnership.
Bangladesh is an important partner for the UK. I spoke with Foreign Minister @AKAbdulMomen about the importance of a coordinated international response on Afghanistan, tackling climate change, strengthening trade between us & supporting Rohingya refugees. #BritBanglaBondhon pic.twitter.com/XqiZ9iZCyx— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) September 6, 2021
Discussing the protracted Rohingya crisis and stalemate in the process of safe and sustainable returns, Momen gave historic references to earlier retaliations of Rohingyas by Myanmar.
He also requested the British minister to exert pressure on Myanmar for the immediate repatriation of their Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
Mentioning the concern of the British Government about the current political turmoil in Myanmar, Raab reiterated the UK's continued commitment to resolving the Rohingya crisis.
He also said that, together with Asean and fellow G7 countries, UK would put increased pressure on Myanmar for a sustainable resolution of the Rohingya crisis.
Both the ministers expressed deep concern about the current Afghan situation and agreed to work closely to restore regional peace, security, and stability.
Dr Momen said that Bangladesh remains deeply committed to maintaining regional peace and security and would continue to stand next to the people of Afghanistan whose voice should be heard for a sustainable future for their country.
On post-Brexit trade relations with the UK, one of Bangladesh's largest trade and investment partners, Momen sought an extension of the UK's zero-duty GSP facility until 2029, especially given the losses suffered by the Bangladesh apparel industry owing to post-pandemic cancellations and non-payments by the UK retailers.
Citing countries that have already taken dedicated SEZs in Bangladesh, including Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, China, and South Korea, Bangladesh foreign minister offered a dedicated SEZ for British investors.
He invited fresh investments in the IT and green RMG and apparel industry, as well as offshore solar and wind power plants, electric vehicles and batteries, electric public transport, and railway sectors.
On climate change, Dr Momen recalled his recent meeting with COP26 President Alok Sharma and reiterated Bangladesh's request as the CVF President for the participation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the CVF-COP26 Leaders Dialogue during the COP26 Leaders Summit in Glasgow.
He also briefed Raab on Bangladesh and CVF's priorities and expectations at the COP26 and praised UK leadership for duly addressing the important issue of loss and damage at Glasgow.
Commending Bangladesh as a climate leader and its proactive CVF Presidency role, the British foreign minister called upon Bangladesh to declare a net-zero by 2050 and a transition to clean energy.
Momen also urged the immediate transfer of appropriate technologies, large investments, and financing from developed countries, especially the UK, for Bangladesh's transition to a low carbon economy by 2050.
Bangladesh's High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem also joined the meeting.