Tuesday 24, May 2022
BN

Bangladesh-US partnership dialogue begin

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen is leading the Bangladesh side and US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland is leading the US side during the dialogue that began at 11:20am.

The eighth Partnership Dialogue will cover all aspects of bilateral relations, but foreign ministry officials said the issue of sanction would be a priority one for Dhaka.

The dialogue is taking place at a time when the bilateral relations between Dhaka and Washington experienced tensions after the US sanctioned Rab and some of its officials and dropped Bangladesh from the list of invitees to the Democracy Summit late last year.

Bangladesh and the US are going to hold a crucial dialogue in Dhaka today that will help determine the next course of relations between the two nations.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and US Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland will lead the respective sides at the eighth Partnership Dialogue.

Nuland, who arrived in Dhaka yesterday afternoon for a three-day visit, will also call on Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

The dialogue will take place at a time when the bilateral relations between Dhaka and Washington experienced tensions after the US sanctioned Rab and some of its officials and dropped Bangladesh from the list of invitees to the Democracy Summit late last year.

The Partnership Dialogue will cover all the aspects of the relationship including trade, labour, investment, human rights, governance, global and regional issues including climate change, Indo-Pacific and security cooperation, US and Bangladesh officials said.

"In the dialogue, we will discuss opportunities to expand a robust relationship, ways we can further enhance close ties on a range of areas of cooperation," a US Embassy official in Dhaka said.

Foreign ministry officials said Dhaka's priority now is the withdrawal of US sanctions on Rab and seven of its current and former officials – an action that is considered an image issue of Bangladesh domestically and internationally.

Bangladesh will also demand reinstating the GSP facility that the US suspended in 2013 in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse, alleging workplace safety and labour rights issues.

"Other issues for us include investment for infrastructure development and support for Rohingya repatriation," said a foreign ministry official.

He said the US has invested mainly in the energy sector and provided assistance in health, education and governance sectors, while China, Japan, Russia, India invested here in major infrastructure projects.

The fact that the Biden administration did not invite Bangladesh to its Democracy Summit late last year has also irked Dhaka.

Also, last year, the US asked Bangladesh to send consent in writing to the Leahy Law, which governs the US security assistance it provides to the countries, by December 31, but Dhaka is yet to give the consent.

A diplomatic source said the delay in sending the consent by Dhaka means complications in future security assistance.

At a discussion in Dhaka on March 15, US Embassy Public Affairs Counselor Sean J Mcintosh said sanctions on Rab and its officials was a message loud and clear that human rights and democracy are at the centre of the Biden administration's foreign policy.

"When there are disagreements in a relationship, it means there is an opportunity for them to come together, resolve and go forward," he said.

He said the US provided more than 60 million Covid-19 vaccines, the highest to any single country under COVAX, which demonstrates the depth of the relations.

Asked about the challenges in Dhaka-Washington relations, Bangladesh's former ambassador to the US Tariq Karim said there are ups and downs in all relationships but that does not mean it is destroyed.

"If there are issues of misunderstanding, both parties must honestly speak and resolve," he said.

SK

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