Canberra to collaborate on maritime security with Dhaka

BYYasir Rehman


264

Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong has said that the coastguards of Australia and Bangladesh will cooperate and collaborate as part of maritime security in the Indian Ocean.

“We’ve had quite a lot of discussion on this. One of the things we want to do is to have deeper collaboration with our coastguards”, she said after meeting Bangladesh Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud for their first ministerial dialogue on Tuesday in Dhaka.

Penny Wong is the first Australian Foreign Minister visiting Bangladesh in the last 26 years.

Photo by The Daily Star

“We share a region, an ocean and a future. We are determined to do all we can with you and other partners in the region to ensure a region that is peaceful, stable and prosperous”, Daily Star quoted her as saying.

A joint statement issued on Wednesday said that the Ministers reaffirmed their support for sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Indo- Pacific, democratic values, human rights, freedom of navigation and overflight, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Australia and Bangladesh are committed to working together to find practical solutions to shared contemporary challenges, including maritime security threats, climate change, cybercrimes and countering trafficking in persons.

Penny Wong said that Australia believe in stability and prosperity. We are a democracy and care about the issues of democracy, human rights, governance and gender equality. We want to do what we can to facilitate development, [so] that the people are safe, prosperous and the conditions for peace are there.

She said she expects Bangladesh to continue to live up to that path of stability, development, human rights and climate change. She also said Australia will provide additional funding to Bangladesh for technical education and for deepening economic engagement, along with additional economic assistance for economic reforms to support the LDC graduation.

Penny Wong added that Australia and Bangladesh are also working on practical solutions to climate change, including on transforming economy to clean energy economy.

Foreign Minister Wong discussed maritime security cooperation with Bangladesh Home Minister

Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud said the bilateral trade between the two countries saw a significant rise, which now stands at $4 billion, and Australia will continue to provide duty-free access of Bangladeshi products to the Australian market even after the LDC graduation.

“We sought Australian investments to our IT sector and special economic zones.”

“We also spoke about skilled migration and a joint programme for Bangladeshi and Australian universities,” he said, adding that more than 100,000 Bangladeshis are already in Australia and are making significant contribution to the Australian society.

Deputy Secretary, South and Southeast Asia Group and Head of the Office of Southeast Asia, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Michelle Chan accompanied the Australian foreign minister.

Senator Wong visit follows a letter from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, expressing his commitment to working together on regional issues.

According to Daily Star, Australian PM highlighted the importance of their partnership in promoting “peace, prosperity and security” in the Indian Ocean.

He affirmed his support for growing bilateral and regional cooperation between Australia and Bangladesh.

“We have many common interests in increasing our trade and investment, promoting human rights, cooperating on people smuggling and addressing the Rohingya issue,” Albanese wrote.

The two countries are scheduled to hold the 5th Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) in Australia next month, said an official.

The 4th FOC was held in Dhaka in March last year.

Foreign Minister Wong also paid a visit to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and discussed maritime security cooperation with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan.

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