Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has described Bangladesh's relationship with the United States as "outstandingly warm and cordial," but noted that some quarters are trying to inject bitterness into this relationship.
The foreign minister asserted that both nations share common principles, emphasising the United States' commitment to democracy and human rights.
"So, there are similarities in our views and thoughts with the United States. However, some individuals may not appreciate our development," Momen said. He also called upon Bangladeshi expatriates in the United States to be vigilant.
Speaking at a views-exchange meeting organised by the Bangabandhu Foundation in New York's Jackson Heights on 26 September (Tuesday), he urged the Bangladeshi diaspora to take a stand, regardless of their political affiliation, to challenge those who spread lies about Bangladesh.
"We have remarkably friendly relations with the United States. America believes in the same principles and values we believe in," he said.
Meanwhile, he recounted Bangladesh's struggle for democracy, highlighting the sacrifices made during the Liberation War in 1971.
"Bangladesh is where we fought for democracy. Although we won the popular vote, we were not allowed to form a government in 1971. Rather, genocide was unleashed on us, and then Bangabandhu declared independence."
The minister said Bangladesh declared independence to establish democracy, justice, and human rights.
"We had to sacrifice three million lives during the Liberation War. Nowhere in the world have so many people sacrificed themselves for democracy and human rights in such a short period of time. We are the only nation in the world that has made such great sacrifices [to this end]," he added.
Addressing concerns related to elections, Momen emphasised the government's commitment to free and fair elections.
"The United States expects free and fair elections, and we are also committed to free and fair elections. But there are some people in our country who want to boycott the elections, they fear elections," he said, referring to the opposition that is trying to thwart the election.
Referring to the replacement of the Digital Security Act with the Cyber Security Act, he said, the government accepted the suggestions provided by the United States as a friendly country.
Stating that Bangladesh is now the 35th largest economy in the world, Momen said, "If Bangladesh's current economic development continues, we will become the 26th largest economy in a few years."
"We have 17 crore people, so our own market is huge. That's why many people are interested in our country, because our per capita income has increased 5 times," he explained.
He also highlighted the reduction in the poverty rate by more than half, self-sufficiency in food production, and the country's impressive rankings in global agriculture.
While insisting that the poverty rate in the country has been reduced by more than half, the minister thanked the implementation of goal-oriented measures of the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Momen said, "We are now self-sufficient in food. We are third in the world in fish and vegetable production. We are fourth in the world in rice production. Our agricultural land has shrunk, but food production has quadrupled. This has been possible due to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina."
Despite these accomplishments, the minister claimed that not everyone appreciates the development activities of the country.
"We are an independent, sovereign country. Our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has given us a beautiful foreign policy. And this principle is 'friendship to all, malice to none.' We believe in this principle. We follow a balanced foreign policy," he said.
Bangabandhu Foundation United States unit General Secretary Abdul Quader Mia was present at the event as a special guest. Other leaders including Moshiur Malek, Fakir Ilyas, Abdul Khalek Mia, and New York Correspondent of Bangladesh Protidin Lovelu Ansar were present.
*This article has been edited by The Business Standard.