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US wants to rebuild trust with BD: Donald Lu

Published : Thursday, 16 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 203

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu on Wednesday said that his two-day visit to Bangladesh was an effort to try to rebuild trust between people of two countries.

"We want to look forward and not look back," Lu said, adding that last year, we know there were a lot of tensions between the United States and Bangladesh. The US worked very hard to promote free, fair, and nonviolent elections here, and it caused some tensions," the US in charge for South Asia said while talking with the reporters after his meeting with Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud at the Foreign Ministry.

This is his third visit to Bangladesh in 17 months, first after the January 7 general election.

"In our relationship, we have lots of hard issues..RAB sanctions...we have labor reforms. We have human rights and business classes reforms. But in order to work on the hard issues, we want to build up the cooperation we have on positive issues," Lu elaborates.

It is very common in the two countries relationship, the US assistant secretary of state said.  

Meanwhile, in a separate briefing, Foreign Minister Hasan said Lu came to Bangladesh to improve the relations.

"We discussed GSP issue, modernisation of the taxation system, Rohingya repatriation issue and genocide in Palestine," Hasan told the briefing.

However, the Foreign Minister said the US wants to help Bangladesh strengthen its reserve.

"He told me that they also want to see peace in Gaza. They are hopeful and agree that peace needs to be established there," Hasan said.

The Foreign Minister regretted the continued loss of innocent lives in Gaza and emphasized the urgency of reaching a ceasefire.

During his briefing, Lu highlighted the ongoing US efforts in this regard and hoped for a positive outcome soon.

However, Donald Lu said, "We want to find ways to strengthen our relationship. And so, I spoke to the minister today about working on the hard things.

The US official said: "We e talking about new investments. We e talking about the ability of more Bangladeshi students to study in the United States. And we e talking about how we work together on clean energy.

"Lastly, one of the things I discussed with the minister was about the work that we are doing together to fight corruption. So much that we can do to promote transparency of government, to promote accountability of officials who may have committed acts of corruption.," he said.

"And we recently were invited by the minister to help Bangladesh broaden its tax base so that all Bangladeshis are paying their fair share," Donald Lu added.

Before his arrival, the state department said he would meet with government officials, civil society leaders, and other Bangladeshis to discuss US-Bangladesh cooperation, including on addressing the climate crisis and deepening economic ties.

The US embassy shared a video of Lu tasting local fuchka and interacting with social media influencers.

With Bangladesh, Lu will conclude his tri-nation tour of the South Asian region on Wednesday. Earlier, he visited India and on Monday he was in Sri Lanka.

Lu had discussed ways to deepen the "forward-looking" bilateral relationship between two countries.

The United States said they stand with Bangladesh in building a "prosperous, secure, and democratic" future.

"Our discussion with the Foreign Minister today (Wednesday) reaffirmed our shared commitment to cultivating economic growth, bolstering the workforce, improving security cooperation, addressing the climate crisis and reinforcing our values of respecting democracy and human rights," said the US side.

"We are talking about new investments, more Bangladeshi students who want to study in the US and how to work on clean energy," he said.

The US also wants to support Bangladesh in fighting corruption, hold the officials accountable, ensure transparency and help widen the tax net.

Assistant Secretary Lu reaffirmed the United States commitment to further the partnership with Bangladesh and take forward the new chapter of relationship.

They discussed a wide range of topics of shared interest, including economic cooperation, trade, investment, education, environment and climate change, security, Rohingya humanitarian response, women empowerment, labour reform, and aviation.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas, among others, were present.

"We were thrilled to join the engaging discussions with the influential social media personalities and dedicated volunteers from Bangladesh. Whether you e into diplomacy, social impact, or just looking for some inspiration, these episodes of "Cha with Peter + Don" are a must-watch," the US Embassy in Dhaka shared on its social media platforms.

Donald Lu, accompanied by US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas, met the Bangladesh Cricket Board and players at Bashundhara Sports Complex, they met the cricketers and board officials to extend their best wishes ahead of the 2024 ICC Mens T20 World Cup to be held in the United States and the West Indies. Shakib Al Hasan, MP, among others, was also there.

With his discussion with the civil society members, Lu laid emphasis on climate adaptation and encouraged youth to come forward to help the people who are at risk in Bangladeshs coastal areas.

During a discussion with the civil society members, Lu cited examples of Bangladesh and the Maldives which might get affected due to sea-level rise.

The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam, rights activist Md Nur Khan Liton, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Women Workers Solidarity Kalpona Akter, Rani Yan Yan and Mahmuda Akhter were also present.

The civil society members raised Palestine issue and genocide committed by Israeli forces, said a source.

Politics in the post-election period, human rights, labour rights and workers fair wages also came up for discussion.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas also attended the discussion held at his residence.

Lu arrived here on Tuesday to "strengthen bilateral cooperation" and to demonstrate US support for a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

His visit was aimed at deepening Bangladesh-US cooperation, including deepening the economic ties in ways that the two countries can collaborate further to address climate issues, said Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the US Department of State Vedant Patel.

With Bangladesh, Lu will conclude his tri-nation tour of the South Asian region on Wednesday.

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