The United States has said Bangladesh enjoys an advantageous geography that makes it an 'ideal hub' for connectivity and promoting pan-Asian connectivity is an issue that has and will continue to have a strong and enduring US commitment.
"Even closer to Kolkata, Bangladesh - the world's seventh most populous country - is sometimes overlooked in the discussion about regional connectivity but it shouldn't be," said Neil Kromash, Deputy Director, Office of South Asian Regional Affairs, US Department of State.
Kromash, while delivering the keynote speech on Building Pan-Asian Connectivity conference in Kolkata on Tuesday, India recently said Bangladesh is rich in natural resources and strategically situated at the intersection of China, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean.
Despite the ongoing political turmoil in Bangladesh, he said, the US continues to seek areas where they can strengthen bilateral relationship with Bangladesh, and regional economic cooperation remains high on the list, according to the US Department of State.
About the importance of emerging regional organizations, Kromash said they believe certain institutions such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or Bimstec, is well-situated to advance important regional objectives such as transit and trade.
"We know Bimstec is in its nascent phase, but the decision by member states to create a secretariat in Dhaka last year is a positive step," said the official adding that they are closely watching the development of this organisation as it gains its legs.
About maritime sphere, Kromash said they see the Indian Ocean Rim Association, or IORA, as a promising forum to address shared interests such as freedom of navigation, anti-piracy, climate change, fisheries management, and maritime scientific collaboration.
"So, promoting pan-Asian connectivity is an issue that has, and will continue to have a strong and enduring US commitment, and where we see great opportunities for cooperation with the countries of the region," he said.
Kromash said they are also watching, with much enthusiasm, the steps between India and Bangladesh to pursue the development of electricity grid connections, as well as other projects to the east such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. ?UNB