Bangladesh urges UK to work together to end wars in Gaza, Ukraine: Foreign Minister

NEWS DESK

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has called upon the UK government to collaborate with Bangladesh to establish a peaceful and conflict-free world and to put an end to the ongoing wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

He made the call while speaking as the guest of honour at a high-profile diplomatic reception hosted by Bangladesh High Commission, London to celebrate the 54th Independence and National Day of Bangladesh, said a press release received in Dhaka on Thursday.

Hasan emphasized the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire in conflict zones worldwide, including Gaza and Ukraine.

He stressed that stopping the killing of innocent people is crucial to restoring normalcy and establishing peace.

Speaker of the UK’s Parliament Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP was the Chief Guest at the event where Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt MP, UK FCDO Minister for Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations Lord Tariq Ahmad, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Steve Reed MP, and Chairman of All-party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh Rushanara Ali, MP, spoke as special guests.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s International Affairs Adviser Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi, former Foreign Minister and Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Dr AK Abdul Momen, MP, and State Minister for Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Shafiqur Rahman Chowdhury, MP, attended the reception.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem gave welcome remarks at the reception held at the historic Churchill Room of Queen Elizabeth II sited in a magnificent setting centring the British Parliament.

In his speech, Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud paid profound homage to Bangladesh’s Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the 3 million martyrs, and the valiant freedom fighters of the 1971 War of Liberation.

He expressed his gratitude to the UK Government, its citizens, and the British-Bangladeshi diaspora for their support during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation, and pledged to elevate Bangladesh-UK historical relations to new heights under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He paid tribute to British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, who warmly welcomed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib as the President of independent Bangladesh at No 10 Downing Street on 8 January 1972.

The minister also paid tributes to the then opposition Leader and two-time British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson, who welcomed Bangabandhu in London and later mourned his brutal assassination on 15 August 1975.

“Bangabandhu’s shared values of democracy, secularism and progressive aspirations with these stalwart British leaders and his special love and affection for his British Bangladeshi compatriots set the foundation of today’s Bangladesh-UK friendship”, he said.

Dr. Mahmud thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for emphasizing his commitment to enhancing the economic and security partnership between Bangladesh and the UK in his congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Hasina after the national election on January 7th, 2024.

He stated that Prime Minister Hasina remains dedicated to strengthening their robust trade, investment, aviation, climate, defence, security, and migration cooperation to the next level in her current term, as agreed upon by the two Prime Ministers in London last May.

The minister termed the UK as a true friend of Bangladesh and hoped that Bangladesh-UK friendship would continue to thrive, as they are an important partner in ensuring peace, prosperity, and security in the Bay of Bengal and a free, open, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region.

He also emphasized the importance of the UK’s support in the early repatriation of 1.2 million Rohingyas back to their ancestral home in Myanmar.

He highlighted the sustained economic growth of Bangladesh over the past one and a half decades under the globally acclaimed dynamic Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has leapfrogged Bangladesh from 41st to the world’s 34th largest economy- just over the past decade.

Today, the world has its eyes on Bangladesh, which is set to become the 9th largest consumer market by 2030, and a tech-based ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041.

The minister commended the Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK for launching the ‘Bangabandhu-Edward Heath Friendship Award’ and the ‘Bangabandhu-Harold Wilson Friendship Award.’

Speaker of the UK’s Parliament Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP in his speech paid tribute to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and recalled the contribution of the British-Bangladeshis to the War of Liberation in 1971.

He reaffirmed that the UK would remain a steadfast partner of Bangladesh efforts towards a developed country.

Penny Mordaunt, MP, commended Bangladesh’s recent progress and assured that the UK would collaborate with Bangladesh to build a better and prosperous future.

He also praised the significant role of the British-Bangladeshi diaspora for their contribution to the UK’s economy and society.

Lord Tariq Ahmad lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for upholding the values and spirit of Bangabandhu in creating a self-sustaining, inclusive, and secular Bangladesh, which is now one of the world’s most rapidly growing economies.

He said that Sheikh Hasina is a leader who showed the world the magnanimity of humanity by hosting over a million of Rohingya displaced from the country Myanmar.

Lord Tariq Ahmad also praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her efforts in upholding the values and ideals of Bangabandhu, which has resulted in a self-sustaining, inclusive, and secular Bangladesh.

He also highlighted Bangladesh’s rapid economic growth, which has made it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Lord Ahmad further acknowledged Sheikh Hasina’s compassionate leadership in providing refuge to over a million Rohingya people who were displaced from Myanmar.

Paying deep homage to the Father of the Nation and 1971 martyrs, High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem in her welcome remarks said Bangabandhu founded Bangladesh on democratic, secular, and progressive values.

Now, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina relentlessly strides to realise Bangabandhu’s vision of a prosperous Bangladesh, the UK remains a crucial partner in achieving this goal, she said.

The High Commissioner thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his congratulatory message to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina following January election, and also recalled the bilateral meeting of the two Premiers where they agreed to take Bangladesh-UK relations to new heights towards a sustainable, greener and more prosperous future.

High Commissioner also thanked the UK Government for its continued support to the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, and urged the UK to take stronger diplomatic leadership for the return of the Rohingyas to their ancestral home in Myanmar.

In her speech, the envoy thanking the Foreign Minister Lord David Cameron for his congratulatory message to Bangladesh Foreign Minister, also highlighted the significant collaborations between Bangladesh and the UK in various fields including in trade, investment, climate, aviation, and defence, and said that the first-ever home office dialogue between the two countries would be held later this month.

The Foreign Minister along with the UK’s Speaker, High Commissioner and distinguished guests unveiled the exclusive “Mujib and Britain’ publication by Bangladesh High Commission, London and handed over the Bangabandhu-Edward Heath Friendship Award’ and the ‘Bangabandhu-Harold Wilson Award’ to two great friends of Bangladesh Lord Marland and Lord Swaraj Paul respectively to honour their extraordinary contributions in promoting Bangladesh-UK Friendship.

The event’s highlights included an Exhibition on Bangabandhu, a colourful cultural performance by British-Bangladeshi prominent performers; and a traditional Bangladeshi Saree exhibition.

It was well attended by the vibrant presence of a distinguished selection of guests including UK parliament members, UK government officials, eminent British Politicians, high commissioners and ambassadors, senior representatives from Commonwealth and International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and representatives from the diplomatic missions in London, think tanks, members of the media, academia as well as members of the Bangladesh community in the UK.

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