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US for comprehensive partnership with Bangladesh

Published : 20 Mar 2022 10:34 PM | Updated : 21 Mar 2022 01:25 PM

Washington has seen “progress” over the Rapid Action Battalion’s (RAB) activities on human rights in the last three months following the US treasury bench imposed sanctions on the elite force and its some current and former officials.

 Visiting US Under Secretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland made the comment on Sunday after the 8th ‘partnership dialogue’ between the countries held at the state guesthouse Padma.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen who led the Bangladesh  side said they have raised “deep concern” about the recent US treasury sanctions imposed on RAB and related individuals, and not only explained how this might affect the efforts of Bangladesh Government to combat terrorism and transnational crimes, but also elaborated our Government has been addressing the challenges.

“We look forward to continuing our discussion in this regard.”

He said he had told his US colleagues that Bangladesh has “high expectations from the Biden Administration in terms of building a comprehensive partnership.”

Replying to a question, the US Under-Secretary said the sanction is a “complicated and difficult issue” and that the US looks forward to working together with Dhaka to address the issue “because our security and counter terrorism cooperation is so important”.

“We have seen progress in the last three months with regard to remediating these (human rights) things. The foreign secretary made clear today that the government has zero tolerance over human right violation issues,” she said, adding that she had received a paper at the dialogue regarding Dhaka's plan to address the issue.

 Replying to a question on how the US expects to strengthen relations by imposing sanctions on the elite force of Bangladesh, she said the US would “never going to be silent” in human rights abuse and violations of basic norms.

 “We talked about it (RAB issue). We will continue to work through it,” she said.

 The dialogue took place after a pause of two years due to the global COVID-19 pandemic situation.

 This was indeed the first in-person political dialogue of Dhaka with the Biden Administration, also being further significant due to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries, the foreign minister said in a statement after the dialogue.

 During the Dialogue, two sides discussed the current status of the whole gamut of US-Bangladesh bilateral relations encompassing political, economic and security domains; and also, on ways and means to further enhance the ties between two friendly nations. 

 The two governments reaffirmed their commitment to enduring partnership, highlighting close cooperation on security, development, humanitarian assistance, and counterterrorism.

 The two governments agreed to continue to cooperate closely to advance a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region.

 In this regard, Foreign Secretary Masud underscored the need for having an economic component in the IPS, in response of which the US side informed that a Economic Framework of the IPS would be released soon. Both sides also exchanged ideas on important issues of bilateral, regional, and global interest and concern, including the current situation in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

 Foreign Secretary Masud underscored that the shared commitment to democratic governance and human rights serves as the fundamental basis for Bangladesh-US partnership. Bangladesh reiterated its strong commitment to upholding all kinds of civil and political rights of the people.

 He also expressed Bangladesh’s willingness to engage in “free and frank” discussion with the US on the RAB issue with the view to uplift the sanctions.

 The US side assured of continued discussions on this issue and appreciated the government’s willingness to engage.

 Two sides also discussed other human rights and labour rights related issues. Bangladesh delegation also raised the issue of the deportation of Rashed Chowdhury, the convicted killer the Father of the Nation.

 Discussion on the issue of repatriation of forcibly displaced Rohingyas also took place.

 The Bangladesh side deeply appreciated the strong political and humanitarian support of the US on the Rohingya issue, and underscored Bangladesh’s priority on the repatriation of the displaced Rohingya as soon as possible.

 Foreign Secretary Masud suggested that the recently concluded MoU between Bangladesh and UNHCR on Bhasan Char should pave the way for US humanitarian assistance in Bhasan Char.

 Under-Secretary Nuland assured of the US’s continued political and humanitarian support for the Rohingya crisis.

 Both sides also discussed strengthening economic ties, including through the upcoming visit to Bangladesh of the US-Bangladesh Business Council in April 2022.

 Foreign Secretary Masud underscored the need for diversification of US investment in Bangladesh, and highlighted the investment opportunity existing in Bangladesh, including the special economic zones and high tech parks.

 He also called upon the US side to consider restoring GSP facilities for Bangladesh RMG exports, and also requested US support for the trade facilitation proposals for graduating LDCs in the auspices of the WTO.

 Bangladesh also sought for US cooperation in developing the Blue Economy, Also US support for resuming direct flight to New York was sought for.

 Both sides also expressed interest to bolster security and defence cooperation as well as maritime cooperation.

 The Dialogue was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere. 

 Both sides reiterated their commitment to further strengthen the partnership between the two countries and take the relationship to greater heights.

 The 9th round of Bangladesh US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue will take place in Washington DC next year, said the foreign ministry. 

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