US keen to assist in modernising Bangladesh armed forces
The United States (US) is keen to assist in the modernization of Bangladesh’s armed forces while Dhaka and Washington agree to continue the discussion over sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) as the two countries have concluded eight round of security dialogue.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ambassador Bonnie Denise Jenkins led their respective delegations at the daylong dialogue held in Washington DC on Wednesday, a foreign ministry press release said in Dhaka on Thursday.
During the meeting at the US Department of State, the two sides had constructive discussions on defence agreements like General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Acquisition Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) which are “foundational agreements” meant to strengthen defence relationship between the two countries.
The Bangladesh side raised deep concern regarding the sanctions on RAB and some of its current and former officials and urged the US side to reconsider the decision.
Bangladesh delegation highlighted RAB’s pivotal role in Bangladesh’s fight against terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes and also elaborated on how the sanctions on RAB is unjustified as the personnel do not enjoy any impunity.
The two sides discussed the issue in details and agreed to continue the discussion in this regard.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary stated that Dhaka deeply values its partnership with Washington while the US delegation appreciated strong ties between the two countries which is well reflected in the regular dialogues.
The US side praised Bangladesh’s successes and leadership in UN Peacekeeping Operations.
The US delegation observed that, after 50 years of independence, Bangladesh has emerged as a responsible country and is taking part in resolving global crises and problems.
Two countries agreed to continue robust cooperation in counterterrorism and transnational crimes while the US side assured about its continued support in building law enforcement and prosecutorial capacity as well as in countering violent extremism in Bangladesh.
The dialogue also covered areas like cooperation in military training, maritime security and capacity development, and regional issues like Rohingya, Indo-Pacific, and civilian security cooperation.
On Indo-Pacific Strategy, fruitful discussions took place, and Bangladesh expressed support to inclusive socio-economic development in the Indo-Pacific region.
Regarding the Rohingya issue, the US highly praised Bangladesh’s role, gave a big thank, and committed to continuing all possible support.
Bangladesh appreciated the determination by the US of the genocide against Rohingyas and urged the US side to take follow-up measures.
The two sides also discussed cooperation in aviation safety, with the view of early resumption of the Dhaka-New York Direct flight.
Bangladesh appreciated the robust support received from the US in terms of COVID-19 vaccines.
The next Security Dialogue would be held next year in Dhaka.
Bangladesh delegation was also comprised of the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) of the Armed Forces Division (AFD) Lieutenant General Waker-Uz-Zaman, Secretary of Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Md Kamrul Hasan, Secretary of Law and Justice Division, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Md. Golam Sarwar, among others.
The US Side was represented by, among others, Assistant Secretary Jessica Lewis and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelley Keiderling.
Later, the Bangladesh foreign secretary and AFD’s PSO also held a separate meeting with the US Under Secretary.