Bangladesh raised concern about US sanctions on RAB: Foreign secretary

Bangladesh has raised deep concern about the recent US sanctions imposed on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and related individuals and looks forward to continuing the discussion with the Biden administration in this regard, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said.

"We have raised deep concern about the recent US Treasury sanctions imposed on RAB and related individuals, and not only explained how this might affect the efforts of Bangladesh Government to combat terrorism and transnational crimes, but also elaborated our Government has been addressing the challenges, the foreign secretary said during the "Meet the Press" segment of the 8th US Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue at State Guest House, Padma on Sunday (20 March) afternoon.

"We look forward to continuing our discussion in this regard. We also explained our position on issues like democratic practices, media freedom, labor rights and religious harmony," he added.

He added that the relations between Bangladesh and the US are based on shared liberal values of upholding democracy and human dignity, commitment towards maintaining international peace and security and aspiration for socio-economic development of people.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen thanked US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who led the US delegation in the 8th round of US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue.

"We had a frank, elaborate and quite fruitful discussion today on the whole gamut of the bilateral relations between our two countries, encompassing political, economic and security domains," Masud Bin Momen said.

"While we have discussed the areas of excellent mutual cooperation like Rohingya issue, Covid-19 vaccine support, US development assistance, capacity building in security sector; we have also exchanged views on areas of yet untapped potentials like exchange of high-level visits, investment, trade facilitation, connectivity, stronger defence and security cooperation," he added.

The foreign secretary said that this year's Partnership Dialogue is especially significant for two reasons.

"Firstly, we will be soon celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The date is precisely on 4th April 2022, the very day our Hon'ble Foreign Minister is holding a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State His Excellency Antony Blinken. Secondly, as we all went through, the Covid-19 pandemic barred us from holding our regular dialogue mechanisms in last two years,"he said.

"This Partnership Dialogue is indeed the first one with the Biden Administration, and also the first among a series of dialogues scheduled in coming months. Thus, Bangladesh is considering today's discussion as the beginning of a rejuvenated robust engagement with our US friends."

Masud Bin Momen added that both sides also have taken the opportunity to better understand each other and explain respective positions on some issues.

Bangladesh also had in depth discussion on ways and means of enhancing trade and investment, and possible cooperation in Blue Economy, Masud Bin Mome said.

"We exchanged our views on Indo-Pacific Strategy, and also shared our perspectives on national, regional and global security and geo-political scenario. Our two sides indeed expressed our willingness to cooperate each other in UN Peacekeeping operations, and expressed willingness to continue our bilateral collaboration in security and defence domains. This is an area on which we would have further detailed discussion in the upcoming security and defence dialogues."

In the area of economic cooperation including trade and investment, Bangladesh looks forward to having further discourse in the upcoming High-Level Economic Partnership Consultation in early June and possible next round of TICFA this year, he added.

"Altogether, I would say that Bangladesh delegation is happy and satisfied with today's discussion. I recall that Partnership Dialogue has principally been aimed at providing an umbrella discussion forum to take stock of the progresses made in other sectoral dialogues. However, with the changed context of the prolonged pause due to the pandemic, this particular Partnership Dialogue is indeed acting as a triggering device for further discussions in upcoming sectoral dialogues. I am sure we would be able to take stock of the sectoral progresses in the 9th Partnership Dialogue next year," Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen further added.

Bangladesh has high expectations from the Biden Administration in terms of building a comprehensive partnership, and will remain keen in this regard, with the view to work closely with the US, he concluded.