Dhaka Tribune: Bangladesh eager for greater engagement with the US

The delegation from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conveyed Bangladesh’s eagerness to further strengthen existing bilateral relations with the United States.

The parliamentary delegation on the second day of their visit to the US met US State Department Assistant Secretary of State (South and Central Asian Affairs) Ambassador Donald Lu, and held a meeting with Congressman Dwight Evans at his Longworth office on Capitol Hill.

The delegation also participated in a roundtable discussion with senior officials of the International Republican Institute (IRI) led by its President Dr Daniel Twining.

The meetings and discussions were marked by a high degree of warmth and cordiality. Bangladesh Ambassador to the USM Shahidul Islam and senior officials of the Embassy were present.

The delegation is being led by Muhammad Faruk Khan, chairman of the standing committee. The other members are Nurul Islam Nahid, Nahim Razzaq, and Kazi Nabil Ahmed.

Meeting with Assistant Secretary Donald Lu

In their meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, the delegation discussed the entire range of issues encompassing the Bangladesh-US partnership and expressed their resolve to expand engagement between the two countries.

Ambassador Lu was highly appreciative of the Bangladesh Government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic, terming its vaccine distribution system as one of the best in the world. He viewed trade and investment, climate change, and Covid-19 cooperation as important areas where the two countries could enhance their collaboration.

The two sides discussed Bangladesh’s huge potential in the IT and ICT sectors and looked forward to expanding cooperation between the Silicon Valley and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Parks.

The visiting delegation sought the assistance of the Biden administration for the early deportation of Bangabandhu’s killer Rashed Chowdhury. They also raised the issue of recent US sanctions on RAB and its senior officials.

Faruk Khan emphasized the importance of restoring direct flights between Dhaka and New York to ease business and communication.

Cooperation in the area of labour rights, Bangladesh’s access to US DFC financing for larger investments in infrastructure projects, steps taken by Bangladesh to promote democracy and human rights, and defence and security cooperation were also discussed at length.

Congressman Evans emphasizes US-Bangladesh engagement

Congressman Dwight Evans, a key member of the US House Ways and Means Committee, praised the proactive role of the Bangladeshi diaspora in developing the local community in his constituency in Philadelphia.

Recalling his visit to Bangladesh in October 2019, congressman Evans expressed hope that the visit by the parliamentary delegation to the US would further enhance the US-Bangladesh relationship.

Congressman Evans assured of his continued support for the Bangladeshi Americana closer Bangladesh-US partnership.

Bangladesh appreciated US humanitarian and political support for Bangladesh on the Rohingya crisis. They requested  Congressman Evans continue his efforts with the US Capitol and the Biden Administration to put sustained pressure on Myanmar for repatriation of the displaced people.

Roundtable discussion at IRI  

The delegation took part in a roundtable discussion with renowned think tank International Republican Institute (IRI) on Thursday.

IRI President Dr Daniel Twining led the IRI side. IRI’s Asia Division Director Johanna Kao, Deputy Director Rhonda Mays, Associate Director Matt Carter, Senior Program Manager Rohullah Niazi, Bangladesh Program Director Dr Geoffrey Macdonald, and diplomats from the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC were present at the meeting.

The Standing Committee delegation mentioned that the government of Bangladesh was taking all possible measures to ensure a free, fair and participatory general election scheduled for early 2024. The delegation noted that the efforts of the Government needed to be supported and complemented by all other political parties, because they all had a stake in ensuring peaceful transfer of power.

The delegation welcomed IRI’s support for strengthening the election commission.