Dhaka, Washington to fight terrorism together
Dhaka and Washington have agreed to enhance cooperation in the areas of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism through capacity enhancement.
They reached the agreement on the first day of the Fifth Partnership Dialogue between Bangladesh and the United States, which began at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, on Thursday.
On the first day of the two-day dialogue, the three Working Groups on 'Security Cooperation', 'Development and Governance Cooperation', and 'Trade and Investment Cooperation' held in-depth discussion on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interests.
Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque, who is leading a 13-member Bangladesh delegation, made a presentation on “Bangladesh by 2030/35: Challenges and Prospects” at the reputed think-tank, Council on Foreign Affairs (CFR), in Washington, DC, Thursday afternoon.
The foreign secretary focused, among other issues, on the Great Prospects of Trade and Investment, Strength of Bangladesh Economy, Deeper Connectivity, Challenges of Climate Change, and a Strategic Vision of a Developed Bangladesh in 2030/35 having the intrinsic values of Democracy, Secularism, Pluralism and Liberalism.
On the concluding day of the dialogue yesterday, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon led the US delegation when the two sides were due to discuss a number of crucial bilateral, regional and international issues.
Diplomatic sources said security issues would be on top of the agenda in the dialogue.
The US offers Dhaka cooperation on security issues including countering violent extremism and terrorism, while security of the US embassy and its officials in Bangladesh will come up prominently.
The US, which is worried about the safety and security of its officials in Bangladesh following the brutal murder of its staff Xulhaz Mannan, will raise the issue of strengthening private security forces in the concluding day discussion.
Highly placed sources said the US is interested in exploring the option of armed Bangladeshi private security personnel ensuring security of the US officials in Dhaka.
Though the US noted the outstanding security provided by local law-enforcement agencies, “the embassy is interested in exploring the option of some of the Bangladeshi private security personnel carrying arms.”
Moreover, the issue of human rights would come up broadly in the discussion, in particular, reports of extrajudicial killings and harassment and arrest of people during recent anti-militancy drives.
During the dialogue, diplomatic sources said the US would enquire about progress in investigation into the killing of locally hired USAID staff Xulhaz Mannan, also an advocate for LGBT rights activist.
Xulhaz and his friend Mahbub Tonoy were stabbed to death at his Kalabagan house on April 25.
The US has already told the government that it wants to see a transparent investigation into the killing and want to see that the killers are tried.
Diplomatic sources said money laundering and terror financing, migration, capacity building of law-enforcement agencies, trade and investment, environment and education issues would also be discussed.
During the first day of the dialogue, the US delegation highly appreciated the valuable contribution made by Bangladesh for almost three decades to the UN Peacekeeping operations.
The two delegations underscored the need for continued and wider cooperation in existing and new areas.
The US delegation also praised the Government of Bangladesh for hosting a large number of undocumented Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh for decades. Both the delegations also agreed to encourage Bangladeshi diaspora to invest in the potential sectors of Bangladesh and thus contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country.
The two delegations discussed the achievements of Bangladesh in addressing the issues in the RMG sector and agreed to continue with the multi stakeholder cooperative mechanism in this regard.