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Visa policy to encourage free, fair polls: Haas

BSS . Dhaka
30 May 2023 20:40:30 | Update: 30 May 2023 20:51:33
Visa policy to encourage free, fair polls: Haas
US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas — File Photo

US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas on Tuesday said the new US visa policy applies to “everyone” and it is to encourage all in Bangladesh to make right “behaviour” to ensure free and fair elections.     

“The Idea behind the (new visa) policy is that it applies to everyone, it’s about the behaviours and it’s about encouraging the right behaviours for free and fair elections. So people who support free and fair elections are towards that end have nothing to fear,” he said.

The envoy was talking to reporters after inaugurating a special photo exhibition along with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam titled Roots of Friendship:  50 Years of US-Bangladesh Relations in Dhaka.

Last week, Washington announced its new visa policy for Bangladeshis where it said it would enable the US “to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh".

When talking to reporters, Haas said, the US wants the same thing that the Bangladesh government is committed to hold a free and fair elation.

“(Bangladesh) Prime Minster (Sheikh Hasina) made her commitment (to hold free, fair polls) clear and (Bangladesh) foreign minister has made the commitment and welcomed international observers to come and watch the elections. So, I don’t see any disagreements at all,” he said.

Haas added, “We the US want what every Bangladeshi want – free and fair elections”.  

The ambassador said the US announced the new visa policy is in support of the Bangladeshi people and Prime Minister Sheikh Haisna’s call for free and fair elections.  “This is one of our ways of supporting that, using our policy,” he added.

While asking what are the challenges in current Bangladesh-US relations, Hass said that he “turned the focus (Bangladesh-US ties) on the positives rather than the challenges”. 

“The (today’s) photo exhibition is a great example historically of what our partnership was then, but even currently we have a very strong partnership on trade, security relations, people-to-people ties, healthcare and then, of course, we are working through, and we are having good conversations on the upcoming elections,” said the ambassador. 

The exhibition displayed 50 historic photographs - an extended celebration of the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties between the United States and Bangladesh - representing six distinct categories. 

The “Early Contact” category features the initial seeds of friendship and collaboration between Bangladeshis and Americans—early immigrants, artists, scholars, architects, doctors, and entrepreneurs—prior to Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. 

The “Official Visits” category showcases visits and meetings of the U.S. and Bangladeshi heads of state. 

The “Aid & Infrastructure” category covers the United States' support for Bangladesh’s development over the decades while the “Trade & Business” category features the vibrant bilateral trade relationship.

The “Education & Science” category shows how Bangladeshi and American scientists and scholars have collaborated for decades on a wide variety of research projects and the “Culture & Diaspora” category portrays how over half a century, both countries have connected through cultural expression.