US to welcome return to civilian govt in Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Feb 3 (UNI) Visiting US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald Camp today said Washington would welcome lifting of restrictions on political parties and return to a civilian elected government in Bangladesh.

Mr Camp, who held bilateral talks with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain, told mediapersons that Washington was supportive of the caretaker government and its action plan to hold elections later this year.

The military-backed caretaker government led by Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed imposed the state of emergency and restricted political activities on January 11 last year following political turmoil over holding general elections.

The government now plans to hold the stalled parliamentary polls before December this year.

In reply to a question, Mr Camp said already some restrictions on political parties have been lifted and he was sure there will be more, which will be welcome.'' Mr Camp, who arrived in Dhaka earlier in the day on a two-day visit, avoided making any comment on lifting of the state of emergency that is in place for more than a year.

However, he said this would be an important year for Bangladesh as there is a commitment from the caretaker government to hold elections to return to a civilian elected government.

He emphasised the importance of dialogue between the government, civil society, political parties, the private sector and international partners to resolve major problems facing the country in political and economic arena.

Asked about any US concerns regarding the current situation, the State Department official did not spell out the concerns, but said he would raise the concerns to individuals involved during his meetings.

Terming Bangladesh and the US as good friends, Mr Camp said both the countries help each other in times of need.

He expressed happiness at the US humanitarian efforts to Bangladesh after the tragedy of Cyclone 'Sidr' that battered the country on November 15 last year.

After nearly half an hour's meeting, Mr Hossain said they had useful discussion covering basically bilateral issues including US assistance to reconstruction projects in post-cyclone and trade matters.

''We had very useful and comprehensive discussion on certain other bilateral matters,'' he told mediapersons.

Mr Camp commended the Bangladesh government on its effective response to the cyclone. He reiterated the US government's commitment to providing assistance in the long-term reconstruction of the cyclone-affected areas.


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