Describing the Rohingya crisis as a "big challenge" for the region, Bangladesh's envoy in the US has listed it as an obstacle in the greater integration of South and Southeast Asian economies.
"(However), Bangladesh welcomes any regional initiatives that support the country's development aspirations and bring greater good for the region and beyond," Ambassador M Shahidul Islam said at a webinar on Thursday.
"Bangladesh maintains friendly relations with all countries of the world, including its neighbours, and believes in resolving any bilateral issues through dialogues and negotiations," he added.
The webinar titled 'Bangladeshi perspectives on regional economic cooperation' was organised by leading US think-tank Atlantic Council on Thursday in partnership with the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC.
During a Q&A session post-discussions, Ambassador Shahidul responded to questions from the moderator and the audience about Bangladesh perspectives on QUAD, RCEP, free-trade zone among the Asian countries, sharing of Teesta water, and killings at the Bangladesh-India border, among others.
Senior advisor of Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and former US Ambassador to Fiji Osman Siddique, moderated the event.
Ambassador Shahidul also highlighted Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision for transforming the country into a connectivity hub in South Asia "to foster economic cooperation and people to people contact in the region".
He also highlighted Bangladesh’s proactive role to support cooperation among the regional countries in areas such as power and energy, Covid-19 collaboration, and climate change.
The Ambassador also shared his thoughts about the possible role and relevance of the US to promote economic integration of South Asia.
Speakers the webinar praised the impressive economic growth that Bangladesh has registered in recent years despite various challenges, including the pandemic and the Rohingya crisis
Osman, on his part, highlighted the tremendous socio-economic development that Bangladesh has achieved since her independence by comparing some of the economic indicators between the past and the present.