US President Joe Biden’s point person for South Asia, Donald Lu, is coming to Dhaka in mid-January in a “brief but significant” visit.
Diplomats in Dhaka and Washington confirmed to Bangladesh Post that the daylong visit of the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs would take place on January 15. “He’ll arrive on January 14. All the meetings will take place on January 15. Details are yet to be finalised”.
This will be his first visit to Bangladesh. He 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.
Some 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.