US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas thinks that many people are "over-exaggerating" the impact of the sanctions imposed on the elite force Rab and some officials but acknowledges that it did have an impact on the overall relations.
"Yes, the sanctions did have an impact. I think many people are over-exaggerating the impact because the relationship we have is so broad and we deal with so many issues," he told Voice of America Bangla Service in an interview at the US Department of State.
He said the sanctions is one issue but they continue to work very closely under the security front.
Ambassador Haas said the US stopped providing training to the Rab in 2018 because of concerns as they want to see accountability for the past human rights violations and to reform the Rab so that it does not repeat the same.
On December 10, 2021, Human Rights Day, the United States imposed sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion and some of its serving as well as former officials, based on what the US said was "credible evidence" of serious human rights abuses.
The US envoy said over the past few months the two countries had partnership dialogue, security dialogue, military partnership and high level economic dialogue. "We are cooperating deeply and aggressively on those fronts."
The US ambassador reiterated the importance of free media and the challenges in Bangladesh.
He said the government-to-government relationship is important but businesses, education and family ties are far more important.
This year, 2022, Bangladesh and the United States are celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken kicked off a busy program of engagements for the year ahead by marking the milestone during their meeting on April 4 in Washington, DC.
Paying Tribute to Bangladesh
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas said America's founding fathers expressed their desire to build "a more perfect union" and that is a challenge that Americans face every day with humility and confidence as they address weaknesses to their democracy.
"Independence Day in America is also a day of fun, a day for getting together with friends and family. A day for barbeques, parades, and fireworks," he said.
The US envoy was addressing at the "Independence Day State Fair Celebration" held at the American International School in the city on June 29.
"This year, as we celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations with Bangladesh, we pay tribute to another nation that emerged after a bloody war of independence. We pay tribute to a nation that has overcome great adversity," said ambassador Haas.
Law Minister Anisul Huq joined the celebration as the chief guest. He hoped that the bilateral relations with the USA will flourish in the coming days and will certainly contribute to socioeconomic development of the two nations.
Apart from government to government relations, the Law Minister highlighted the growing people to people and business to business connectivity between the two countries.
He said Bangladeshi diaspora across the USA act as an essential bridge between the two nations and there is a growing number of students who are studying in the USA.
This year, ambassador Haas said, they decided to celebrate Independence Day a bit more like they would back home - with jeans, with sliders and hotdogs, with deep-fried pickles and Oreos, with games, and with music. "And of course with all of you."
The US envoy said Independence Day in America is a day of red, white, and blue. "It's a day of pride, patriotism, and a day when we remember that our nation emerged after a bloody war of independence; a day when we honor the sacrifices made by veterans to keep our democracy safe."
Ambassador Haas said they look forward to what the future will bring to Bangladesh and what Bangladesh will bring to the future. "Neither of our nations is perfect."
Arnob and Friends performed at the function which began with the national anthem of Bangladesh.
Americans, across the United States and beyond, will come together on the fourth of July to celebrate their independence with food, family, and fireworks.
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