US trying to ease pressure on Bangladesh from Rohingya crisis: Counselor Chollet

The issues related to the Rohingya crisis and overall security in the Indo-Pacific region are likely to get priority during Counselor of the US Department of State Derek Chollet’s Bangladesh visit next week.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar which is only getting worse,” said Chollet ahead of the planned visit which may last for around 24 hours.

Talking at the television talk show “Tritiyo Matra” online, the US counselor said they are doing whatever they can in cooperation with Bangladesh and to try to ease the pressure on the country from the refugee crisis by providing critical assistance to it to support its humanitarian needs, also with efforts to try to bring some of the refugees back to the US.

Highlighting the importance of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, he said Bangladesh is an important partner and that is why they have seen such a steady stream of high-level visitors.

The Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US outlines President Biden’s vision to more firmly anchor the country in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the region in the process. Its central focus is a sustained and creative collaboration with allies, partners, and institutions, within the region and beyond it.

About democracy, the US counselor said they acknowledge that no democracy is perfect but they always try to make themselves better and try to acknowledge their mistakes and improve.

He said when they talk about freedom of press, free and fair elections or free civil society, they do so freely in the “spirit of partnership and friendship.”

The forthcoming visit of US Counselor Chollet will help strengthen Bangladesh-US relations, said a spokesperson Thursday.

“Counselor Derek Chollet will be visiting Bangladesh. The purpose of his visit is to strengthen the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the United States,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Seheli Sabrin told newspersons in the afternoon.

The US Counselor serves at the rank of under-secretary as a senior policy advisor to the US secretary of state on a wide range of issues and conducts special diplomatic assignments as directed by the secretary.

Sabrin said Chollet will also discuss the Rohingya issue and see the situation on the ground. Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char.

“The programmes are yet to be finalised,” said the spokesperson about Chollet’s planned 14-15 February visit.

Chollet previously held positions at the state department, the White House, and the Department of Defence.

From 2012-2015, he was the US assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, where he managed US defence policy towards Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere.

Before joining the Pentagon, Chollet served at the White House as special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council (NSC) staff.

He was the principal deputy director of the state department’s policy planning staff from 2009 to 2011.

He also served on the 2020 Biden-Harris State Department transition team as well as the 2008 Obama-Biden NSC transition team.

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