Bangladesh and UK yesterday launched a joint working group (JWG) to enhance counter terrorism cooperation between the two countries for building capacity of combating terrorism.
At the first meeting of JWG, high officials of the two countries primarily identified the areas of cooperation, including sharing intelligence and training of law-enforcers.
They agreed to hold the next meeting of the group by the end of this year to finalise the modalities of their cooperation under the group.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hasan Mahmud and UK Minister for Security and Counter-Terrorism Lord West led their respective sides at the day-long meeting at state guesthouse Meghna.
“Bangladesh sought UK support for strengthening the coast guards to protect maritime boundary, border management and training of our law enforcers,” Hasan Mahmud told reporters after the meeting.
He said activities of joint working group began at its first high-level meeting.
“Terrorists have no boundary and they have connection among themselves, they assist each other. If we want to combat them, we must have a network and cooperation among ourselves. That's why, the UK-Bangladesh joint working group was formed," he said.
The state minister said they asked UK side to form a cell under JWG for our border management. “They (UK) have responded positively in this regard," he added.
"We have sought assistance to enhance the capacity of our coast guards to protect our sea boundary, border management and in detection of explosive at the airports,” he said, adding that the UK assured him of giving necessary equipment.
Mahmud said they also discussed how the two countries can cooperate in crisis management or when there is a security threat.
Lord West, who came here Saturday on a three-day visit said, "Both of our nations sadly have been victims of terrorism and I think it is very important that we work together in the face of that, counter-terrorism."
"We are in discussion with many countries of the world. Because, terrorism is a global threat," said West, terming terrorism an international phenomenon which he said should be resolved bilaterally and internationally.
The UK minister said terrorists in Bangladesh and UK could have linked sometimes using information and communication technologies.
Asked about specific assistance for Bangladesh under the JWG, he said they are in a dialogue with the government and more dialogues would take place in future.
Asked if Bangladesh is under international security threat, Lord West said all countries are under threats.
The first meeting of JWG is a follow up of the proposal made by UK Home Secretary Jackie Smith during her trip to Bangladesh in April last year.
Talking to The Daily Star after the meeting, Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder said the two sides discussed the areas of cooperation. “We also discussed from where security threats could come,” he said.
He said both sides placed their recommendation in this regard and finalised the areas of cooperation. He also said Bangladesh look forward to form such group with US, Australia and Russia.
Foreign ministry officials said both UK and US have proposed Bangladesh and other countries in this region to form JWG to counter terrorism. “Like some other countries, we have also responded to their proposal,” said a foreign ministry official.
Secretary to the PMO, defence secretary, chairman of Civil Aviation Authority, director generals of NSI, BDR, Rab, DGFI and Coast Guard, acting IGP, representative of Armed Forces Division, joint secretary (political), home ministry, and director general (Europe) of the foreign ministry, among others, were present at the meeting from the host side.
British High Commissioner Stephen Evans, Head of Counter Terrorism Department Robert Chatterson Dickson Sian Price, Head of International Security Section Mark Clayton, Office of Security and Counterterrorism Paul Waters and Alaric Bonthron of Metropolitan Police Service, Jon Chorrley from Cabinet Office, Philip Spicer from Defense Advisor and James Hopkins from the ministry of defence accompanied Lord West in the meeting.