Security to top agenda
Bangladesh and the United States are set to hold their 5th Partnership Dialogue in Washington on June 23-24 amid concerns over the recent systematic assaults and killings in the South Asian country.
A series of terrorist attacks targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners took place in Bangladesh in the last few months, which IS and Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for. That raised concerns over the terrorist groups taking roots in the country.
Since October last year, the US has been suggesting that terrorists with links to the Islamic State have been preparing to increase their activity within the territory of Bangladesh.
However, the Bangladesh government outright rejected the presence of Islamic State (IS) here.
It said some home-grown criminals were behind the attacks and that activities of criminals and militants were now under control.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will lead the Bangladeshi delegation at the dialogue while the US side is likely to be headed by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas A Shannon. US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal and other senior officials will also be present.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat had a lengthy meeting yesterday with Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque. They discussed details of the Dhaka-Washington talk, according to diplomatic sources.
The partnership dialogue will feature three components -- security, trade and investment and development cooperation.
Security will top the agenda. The two sides will also discuss issues like development and governance, trade and investment, labour rights, regional connectivity, climate change, food security etc.
Besides, the decisions and proposals made during last month's Dhaka visit of several US delegations will come under discussion at the dialogue, diplomatic sources said.
Senior officials from different ministries, including foreign, home, commerce, finance, defence, and food and disaster management will participate in the discussions on June 23. The meeting of the heads of the delegations will be held the next day.
Following the gruesome killing of USAID official Xulhaz Mannnan, the US sent several teams to discuss security issues with the government. The teams were headed by Nisha Desai Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory B Starrr and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs William E Toddecent.
They met government high-ups and top officials of law enforcement agencies.
During the meetings, the US side called for full-proof security of the US Embassy in Dhaka and its staff, and offered help to fight terrorism and violent extremism.
About the security measures taken by the government so far, US Embassy spokesperson Nancy VanHorn said the embassy was relying on the robust and responsive protection measures by local law enforcement agencies.
“The Bangladeshi police provide outstanding and professional protection to our diplomats and facilities,” she said.
Apart from that, the embassy relies on private Bangladeshi security companies for secondary protection like other diplomatic missions and thousands of other establishments in Dhaka.
The Bangladeshi personnel employed by these companies are unarmed in compliance with local law. The US Embassy complies fully with Bangladesh's law while taking security measures, Nancy added.