Bush approves Bangladesh’s roadmap to polls by 2008


Washington/Dhaka : US President George W. Bush has welcomed Bangladesh's roadmap to democracy and praised the military-backed caretaker government's commitment to hold parliamentary elections in 2008.

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Bush has also welcomed the government's drive against crime and corruption that has sent a whopping 220,000 people to jail since January this year.

When the roadmap for elections was announced July 15, the US embassy in Dhaka welcomed it but demanded that the ban on political activity be lifted.

Sheikh Hasina, a former prime minister, is among the 150 odd politicians arrested on various charges, and notices have been served also on her rival and another former premier, Khaleda Zia.

Bush has pledged the US government's cooperation in holding the elections, the United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency reported Friday.

Bush's observations came when Bangladesh's new ambassador M. Humayun Kabir presented his credentials at the White House Wednesday.

The US president described Bangladesh as a role model among "moderate and tolerant Muslim nations," saying the country had demonstrated its unflinching commitment to democracy by holding innumerable elections, The Daily Star said.

Welcoming Kabir, Bush said both Bangladesh and the US "have strong faith in democratic values and are committed to work jointly for mutual economic development and combating terrorism".

Appreciating the reform programme of the caretaker government, Bush said he supported the anti-graft drive and initiatives to realise tax, the Bangladesh foreign office said in a statement.

He assured cooperation as the ambassador sought duty- and quota-free access of Bangladesh products to the US market.