US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recognized the elite force RAB's important counterterrorism role, but stated that lifting sanctions and resuming training with American forces may take time.
During his bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at the US State Department on Monday, Secretary Blinken appreciated that Bangladesh is re-examining the Digital Security Act (DSA).
Regarding the human rights related issues, both sides stressed upon the fact that there are some noticeable developments in the last four months.
Foreign Minister Momen emphasized that Bangladeshi law enforcers need training from the US on rules of engagement, and informed that there is an inbuilt system of inquiry in the RAB, which tracks all allegations, based on which a number of personnel have been penalized.
Depicting the context of the creation of RAB in 2004, he underscored that RAB has played a pivotal role in Bangladesh's counter-terrorism efforts, which may be undermined by the sanctions.
Momen also sought the US Secretary of State's attention and assistance for realizing the deportation of Rashed Chowdhury, one of the convicted killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is residing in the US.
Appreciating ongoing works of the tripartite group on labour rights, he underscored that labour rights is an important determinant of Biden Administration's foreign policy.
Noting that Bangladesh is not getting development finance due to the labour rights issues, he stressed upon resolving all the impediments.
He positively responded to the proposal of deepening maritime cooperation as two countries have the shared goal of a free and secure Indo-Pacific.
Two side discussed the whole gamut of US-Bangladesh bilateral relations.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister thanked the United States for providing more than 61 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine so far, the highest received by any country from the US.
Referring to the congratulatory letter from US President Joe Biden to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he appreciated that the warmth of the message.
Stating that Bangladesh has made huge socio-economic progress in last 50 years, Foreign Minister Momen termed the US as an all-time friend of Bangladesh in its journey towards development as the largest trading partner as well as the largest investor in accumulated term.
He appreciated that the US has finally determined that genocide took place in Myanmar in 2017, and opined that the US should suspend GSP and re-impose sanctions on Myanmar in order to put pressure so that Myanmar resolves the crisis.
He opined that the US needs to diversify investment portfolio, and can consider investing in the infrastructure sector in Bangladesh.
He depicted Bangladesh's potential in terms of young population including around 700,000 IT professionals; and also proposed that there may be joint investment proposals in pharmaceutical sectors.
He also urged for assistance from the US in developing blue economy, opining that this may enable two countries to work together in building a secure Indo-Pacific region.
US Secretary of State Blinken underscored also on looking forward for next 50 years, with tremendous potentials.
He appreciated Bangladesh's leadership in climate actions, generosity towards the Rohingyas, and role in the UN Peacekeeping Mission.
Blinken also expressed satisfaction about the cooperation two countries are having in combatting the pandemic.
He expressed his satisfaction about the Partnership Dialogue held last month and the upcoming Security Dialogue, and opined that a new momentum has been created. He also thanked Bangladesh for voting in favour of the humanitarian resolution on Ukraine in the UN General Assembly.
On labour rights issues, Foreign Minister Momen informed that Bangladesh has formulated a roadmap with the ILO and the EU, and sought for US participation in the process.
He also underscored that Bangladesh has done a lot on the safety, resulting that 7 of the top 10 eco-friendly factories are in Bangladesh.
Foreign Minister Momen, during the meeting, declared Bangladesh's acceptance of US proposal to deploy Peace Corps in Bangladesh again.
He also requested Secretary Blinken's assistance in expediting the matter of opening Dhaka-New York direct flight.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister underscored briefed US Secretary of State on Bhasan Char and requested US assistance for the Rohingyas there.
He also underscored the fact that Bangladesh is still a young democracy compared to the US, and wishes work closely with the US in further strengthening the democratic process.
Foreign Minister Momen invited Secretary Blinken to visit Bangladesh in near future.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Momen met USAID Administrator Samantha Power.
During the meeting, both sides discussed about issues of mutual concern.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister thanked the USAID Administrator for agreeing to his request to assist in the project of strengthening the coastal embankments in Bangladesh.
Mentionable, a joint feasibility study by the USAID and Bangladesh Government on this would commence soon.
The USAID Administrator emphasized that Bangladesh should resolve outstanding labour issues to become eligible for the development finance from the DFC.
In this regard, Foreign Minister Momen emphasized on the implementation of the Roadmap undertaken with ILO and EU.
He also emphasized on a stronger consultative mechanism between Bangladesh Government and the USAID on how funds are disbursed.
He requested USAID's assistance in establishing forensic labs in Bangladesh, so that litigation time of pending cases reduce.
Two sides also discussed in details the political and humanitarian aspects of the Rohingya crisis, and Administrator Power assured of continued US assistance.
Regarding Bhasan Char, Foreign Minister Momen requested the US to join the humanitarian assistance there.
They also discussed on the climate change cooperation and on possible adverse effect of Ukraine crisis.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister also met US Senator Chris Van Hollen, President of National Democratic Institute (NDI) Ambassador Derek Mitchell, and Director of New Lines Institute Mr. Azeem Ibrahim.
He also attended, as the chief guest, in the reception hosted by the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman was the guest of honour.
She had a separate bilateral meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen before the reception.
During the meeting, Foreign Secretary Momen requested for more US cooperation in combatting human trafficking and illegal migration, as well in in agricultural sector.
They also discussed the Rohingya issue in details.
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