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Donald Lu coming to Dhaka via India tomorrow

Published : 12 Jan 2023 09:57 PM

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu will come to Dhaka on January 14 after his India visit.

The state department said he will travel to India and Bangladesh January 12-15, for meetings on a range of priorities including energy, trade, security cooperation, religious freedom, labour, and human rights.

In India, the Assistant Secretary will participate in the India-U.S. Forum.

 Assistant Secretary Lu will also meet with senior Indian officials to discuss ways in which the United States and India can further expand energy, trade, security, and human rights cooperation.

While in Bangladesh, Assistant Secretary Lu will meet with senior Bangladeshi officials and civil society leaders to discuss strengthening our bilateral relationship, expanding economic engagement and hear their perspectives on labour and human rights.

This will be his first standalone visit to Bangladesh. Earlier in March last year he accompanied US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland  in Dhaka on a three-day visit.

 Lu assumed office at the US State Department on September 15, 2021.

 The relations between Bangladesh and the US have come to a long way through engagements in different ways. Security dialogue, partnership talk, TICFA, military to military engagement and high-level economic consultations are some of the platforms through which both countries discuss bilateral issues.

 However, the US has been raising concerns on the human rights situation of Bangladesh and the ground to hold the next general elections free and fair.

 The embassy in Dhaka also raised security concerns when Ambassador Peter Haas’ pre-scheduled meeting with ‘Mayer Dak’ on December 14 was “interrupted by protestors, who attempted to enter the building where the Ambassador was located.”

 ‘Mayer Dak’ is a group of family members of the victims of alleged enforced disappearances. Another group, Mayer Kanna, a platform of family members of victims of enforced disappearances during the first military dictator of Bangladesh General Ziaur Rahman’s regime, tried to submit a memorandum to the Ambassador on the spot surrounding his vehicle.

  Before that, 15 diplomatic missions in Dhaka including the US issued a joint statement before the International Human Rights Day.

 After that, both the foreign minister and the state minister asked the diplomats to abide by the diplomatic norms and that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will “not bend down to any external pressure” to derail the nation from its constitutional path towards democracy and fundamental freedom.

 The state minister in a written speech had also said that the developing countries like Bangladesh are being “targeted for undue pressure by a handful of countries from the North”.

 “I would call upon the concerned foreign Missions in Dhaka to abide by diplomatic norms and etiquette that they themselves expect from foreign missions in their country to practice. The Government of Bangladesh is patient and cordial to our foreign guests and is sincerely willing to maintain friendly relations to all nations, but we do have some red lines,” he had said.

 South Asia is well-known to Lu. In his more than 30 years of U.S. foreign service, he served in India and Pakistan in different capacities.

 He was the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in India (2010-2013), Political Officer in India (1997-2000), Special Assistant to the Ambassador in India (1996-1997), and Political Officer in Peshawar, Pakistan (1992-1994).

 He was the U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic from 2018 to 2021 and to the Republic of Albania from 2015-2018.

 He graduated from Princeton University with both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in international relations, according to the State Department website.