'US heartened by the announcement from Bangladesh govt'

The US state department has said they are heartened by the announcement from the Bangladesh government that welcomed the new US visa policy.

"I will say that we were heartened by the announcement from the government yesterday that welcomed the steps that we took," said Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the United States, while answering queries at the department of state on Thursday.

He said, "We believe that democracy is the most enduring means to advance peace, prosperity, and security. It’s why we made the announcement today, and we look forward to working with the Bangladeshi Government going forward."

When asked whether you urge the opposition also take part to the upcoming election slated to be at the end of this year or probably beginning of the next year, Miller said, "I’m not going to speak to what any political party within Bangladesh should or should not do. I will say that the United States’ interest in this question is in support of free, fair and peaceful elections. That’s why we announced the new policy."

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Following the US new visa policy, the Bangladesh government appreciates that the international community, including the US, firmly stands by prime minister Sheikh Hasina's sustained commitment to ensure free and fair elections, said the foreign ministry on Thursday in a statement responding to the new US visa policy.

The United States announced a new visa policy to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections. The policy will preclude issuance of US visas for any Bangladeshi individuals who are responsible for undermining democratic election process.

The US secretary of state Antony J Blinken made the announcement at a statement on 24 March.

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“Today, I am announcing a new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) (“3C”) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.  Under this policy, the United States will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.

This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services,” the statement of the US secretary of state reads.

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The US said actions that undermine the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views.

Blinken said the US on 3 May notified Bangladeshi government of this decision.