Bangladesh and Australia have expressed their desire to deepen and widen their economic cooperation.
As Bangladesh graduates from Least Developed Country status, both the sides acknowledged the importance of greater engagement particularly in the areas of agriculture, water resource management, power, energy and mineral resources, trade, investment, human resource development, information communication technology, defence and blue economy.
They hoped for closer collaboration to address common challenges and opportunities in Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean regions.
These issues were discussed at the "Senior Officials Talks" held on Thursday between the two Foreign Offices on a virtual platform as part of the regular Foreign Office Consultations, said a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Australian Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne called his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen and discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, including the Rohingya issue, climate change and commonwealth.
Their discussion also focused on recalibrating the bilateral relations more towards trade, investment and human resource development. Foreign Minister Momen sought intensified Australian support in early resolution of the Rohingya crisis.
In Thursday's talks, the Australian side congratulated Bangladesh in her celebration of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of Independence. Bangladesh side recalled with gratitude the bipartisan support of Australian lawmakers and the people during her War of Liberation.
Both the sides highlighted the excellent bilateral relations based on historical ties, the important contribution of diaspora and shared values and common aspirations for peace, progress and prosperity.
Australia reaffirmed its commitment to support Bangladesh's recovery from Covid-19 and to extend assistance to Bangladesh's priority areas through the Australian development programme.
The two sides also expressed satisfaction in the progress made in creating a platform for discussing trade and investment related matters and also resumption of direct air cargo transportation from Bangladesh.
The talks involved productive exchange of views on the challenges in the Indian Ocean region, Myanmar, a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis, the importance of human rights, and on other current global issues including climate change. Officials acknowledged the shared security interests, including cooperation in cyber security, fighting transnational crime, countering terrorism and human trafficking, and the importance both sides place on defence cooperation.
Australia appreciated that Bangladesh was bearing a significant burden in hosting the Rohingyas and also provided an update on Australia's humanitarian assistance for them.
Both sides stressed the need for early, voluntary, safe, and sustainable return of the Rohingyas and reintegration of the returnees into the Myanmar society, with international support.
They also agreed that the solution to the crisis remained within Myanmar and creation of a conducive environment there was necessary for the repatriation of the Rohingyas to their ancestral homes in the northern Rakhaine province. Bangladesh also stressed that if the Rohingyas could not be repatriated within a short span of time, it would have ramifications for the entire region and beyond.
In Bangladesh's golden jubilee year, Australia and Bangladesh looked forward to building on the existing strong foundations to ensure that Asia-Pacific region remained secure, open and prosperous.
The two sides also agreed to commemorate the 50th year of establishment of diplomatic relations in a befitting manner in 2022 and hold the next Foreign Office Consultations the same year.
The Bangladesh side was led by Khondker M Talha, director general for East Asia and Pacific of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while Gary Cowan, first assistant secretary, North and South Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade headed the Australian side.
Bangladesh High Commissioner in Canberra Md Sufiur Rahman and Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Jeremy Brewer also participated in the discussion.