DHAKA, March 28, 2017 (BSS) - Bangladesh and the UK today agreed to continue to work closely to further strengthen security at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and carry out a joint assessment to draw up an action plan to identify the remaining improvements needed.
Once these necessary improvements are in place, the UK agreed to take steps for the resumption of cargo on UK-bound direct flights from Dhaka, according to a joint statement issued here following the first ever Bangladesh-UK Strategic Dialogue held at State Guest House Meghna in the capital.
Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque led their respective sides in the talks.
The both sides agreed that countering terrorism required global collaboration to address the root causes and to uphold respect for the rule of law and international human rights commitments.
The two countries also agreed to build shared prosperity through widening and deepening the existing excellent bilateral relations for mutual benefits.
During the Dialogue, they also celebrated the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The UK congratulated Bangladesh on the impressive socio-economic development achieved in recent years, including in the empowerment of women and appreciated Bangladesh's important contribution to UN peacekeeping operations.
The Strategic Dialogue involved a productive exchange on political and bilateral issues, economic and development cooperation, security and defence cooperation and current global issues.
The UK highlighted the valuable contribution made by the large British-Bangladeshi community to British society and the economy.
The both sides noted the election of three members of the community to the British Parliament and the appointment of one member as the UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Bangladesh.
During the dialogue, Bangladesh and the UK condemned the recent terrorist acts in both countries and expressed sympathy for the victims.
The Dialogue confirmed a shared commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UK, as Bangladesh's largest bilateral grant development partner, gave assurances of its continued commitment to this development.
The UK appreciated the huge burden that Bangladesh has been bearing in hosting a significant number of Muslims of the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Both countries agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the problem in Myanmar.
The two sides also agreed to strengthen bilateral trade and to work together to encourage more foreign direct investment.
Sir Simon reiterated that after Brexit, the UK will remain outward looking and a champion for free trade, and is determined to renew and strengthen relations with long-standing friends like Bangladesh.
Recognizing the importance of the visa relationship between the two countries, both sides agreed to maintain an efficient and high quality visa service for Bangladeshi nationals.
The UK agreed to expand the criteria for 3-5 day priority visa services for Bangladeshi applicants from June 2017.
The UK confirmed that all visa decisions are taken by British staff and added that decision making on settlement visas for Bangladeshi nationals was being moved from New Delhi to the UK.
The UK welcomed Bangladesh's commitment to take back its citizens who no longer have the right to remain in the UK and Bangladesh gave an assurance that it will take practical steps to expedite their return.
At the outset of the talks, Sir Simon conveyed the good wishes of the British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to their Bangladeshi counterparts on Bangladesh's Independence Day.
The UK Permanent Under-Secretary and Bangladesh Foreign Secretary began the session with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) confirming the UK and Bangladesh's intention to hold annual Strategic Dialogue alternately in Dhaka and London.
The next Strategic Dialogue meeting will be held in London in the first half of 2018, the statement added.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)