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Ties with US bound to improve

Published : Thursday, 16 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 217

The United States apparently retreating from its earlier stance over Bangladesh is now showing keen interest in deepening partnerships with Dhaka on multiple spheres by letting bygones be bygones.

This is why the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu during his shuttle trip to Bangladesh on Tuesday hinted at mending fences by softening its tone on some tetchy issues.

One of such stumbling issues is the sanction levied on some members of the Rapid Action Battalion by the US administration, accusing them of extrajudicial killings.

But Bangladesh government has repeatedly denied US claim outright saying that RAB members were trained and aided by the US to combat terrorism and they have been highly acclaimed for their extraordinary performance.

Bangladesh has long been broaching this sanction issue during the visits of high-ranking US government officials to Dhaka since it was imposed in 2021. But there has been no positive response from the US side.

This time Donald Lu reportedly made an indication in a meeting with Prime Ministers Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman that the US government may start working on the withdrawal of sanction against RAB members.

This is considered a paradigm shift in the US foreign policy towards Bangladesh.

Another key issue, US new visa policy imposed a few months before the January 7 parliamentary elections with the aim for a free and fair election, remains in place until now.

Apart from visa policy and sanctions on RAB, Donald Lu is supposed to reiterate the call for signing the US Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) on logistics and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) during his talks with the higher echelons of the Bangladesh government. These possible agreements are aimed at bolstering defence partnerships between the two countries in order to ensure regional security.

The US as part of its policy of strengthening relations with the Indo-Pacific nations considers Bangladesh as a key partner and this topic is prominently focused in Donald Lus bilateral talks with Bangladesh officials.  Since Bangladesh has a strategic location, Washington considers it a key security provider in the region.

Though the US still has concerns over democracy, human rights, good governance and labour laws in Bangladesh, Donald Lu especially called for reforms in labour sector as per the guidelines of the International Labour Organisation.

We hope that despites some issues remaining to be resolved, Dhaka-Washing relationships are bound to improve significantly in the years to come in the interests of both countries.

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