Dhaka, Canberra to collaborate on maritime security

Australian FM Wong, said she told Home Minister Asaduzzaman that Australia would bring the head of their coastguard to Bangladesh to talk to the head of Bangladesh Coastguard in order to bring about a fruitful cooperation.


File photo of Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

May 23, 2024

DHAKA – The coastguards of Bangladesh and Australia will cooperate and collaborate as part of maritime security in the Indian Ocean, said Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong today.

“We’ve had quite a lot of discussion on this today. One of the things we want to do is to have deeper collaboration with our coastguards,” she said after meeting Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud at the state guesthouse Padma in the capital.

Earlier, she also called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan.

Penny Wong, who is the first Australian Foreign Minister visiting Bangladesh in the last 26 years, arrived in Dhaka this morning. Tomorrow, she will be visiting the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.

She said she told Asaduzzaman Khan that Australia would bring the head of their coastguard to Bangladesh to talk to the head of Bangladesh Coastguard in order to bring about a fruitful cooperation.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told journalists at the secretariat that Penny Wong emphasised on enhancing the sharing of intelligence for the development of both the countries.

Penny Wong said, “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.”

About big power competition in the Indo-pacific region, she said Australia is a middle power, not super power, and believes in partnership, collaboration and engagement.

“So, we will collaborate with the countries in the Indian ocean through IORA [Indian Ocean Rim Association], work with partners of the ASEAN, with which it has strategic partnership, and we have a growing relationship with Bangladesh.

“We believe in stability and prosperity. We are a democracy and care about the issues [democracy, human rights, governance and gender equality] you spoke about. 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.

Asked about the Rohingya crisis, Penny Wong said Australia recognises that Bangladesh hosts more than a million Rohingyas and will continue to work with the country on addressing the crisis.

“This is a critically important issue to our region. Sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas is the solution,” she said, adding that it is important to hold accountable the perpetrators who committed the crimes against the ethnic minority.

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 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.

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