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Cablegate: Ambassador Presents Credentials to President

VZCZCXRO4489
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0456 1131203
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221203Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6638
INFO RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8402
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2128
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9633
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0598
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1247
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS DHAKA 000456

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/PB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR EAID BG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR PRESENTS CREDENTIALS TO PRESIDENT
IAJUDDIN AND DISCUSSES BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. (U) On April 21, the Ambassador presented his
credentials to Bangladeshi President Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed. The
ceremony received wide spread press coverage in both the
electronic and print media. Following the presentation of
credentials the Ambassador held his first press conference
with representatives of the local media (septel). He will
meet with Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain April 23,
beginning his round of calls on GOB officials.

GOB Committed To Elections...
=============================

2. (U) During their private discussion that followed the
ceremony, Iajuddin expressed his hope for a further
strengthening of bilateral relations, including expanded
trade relations, development assistance (including food aid),
and bilateral education exchanges. He thanked the Ambassador
for USG assistance in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr, noting
that Bangladeshis had a favorable impression of the United
States. Iajuddin noted that Bangladesh was committed to
democracy and holding elections on time. He also noted
Bangladesh's commitment to supporting UN peacekeeping
operations, and expressed hope for greater cooperation on
counterterrorism, including future intelligence sharing with
the US. He noted Bangladesh's success with microfinance, but
hoped to see increased access to the world market for ready
made garments. Iajuddin commented on his personal experience
living and studying in the United States. (He spent six
years in the U.S. as a graduate student at the University of
Wisconsin--Madison.)

...Seeks PL-480 Debt Relief
===========================

3. (U) The Ambassador agreed with Iajuddin about the need
to expand trade, commenting that Bangladesh continued to
increase its exports to the Uni4dd States. When Iajuddin
raised PL-480 debt relief, the Ambassador explained that only
Congress could waive the debt. Iajuddin noted that the large
number of successful Bangladeshis resident in the United
States. By way of example, he mentioned former U.S.
Ambassador Osman Siddique, a Bangladeshi American who served
as Ambassador to Fiji in the late 1990s. The Ambassador also
told Iajuddin that he would look for ways to increase the
number of Bangladeshi students in the United States, in
particular at the graduate level. Iajuddin also extended an
invitation for President Bush to visit Bangladesh.

Comment
=======

4. (SBU) Bangladesh's Presidency is largely ceremonial, and
Iajuddin does not have any real influence on policy.
Iajuddin's points thus reflect the concerns of the GOB
bureaucracy. We interpret the GOB's decision to allow the
Ambassador to present credentials so soon after arrival as a
positive sign of their commitment to continuing to work
closely with the USG.
Moriarty

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