US renews offer of help in fight against terrorism
Offering help in fighting terrorism and violent extremism, the United States has said it wants to see Bangladesh address vital issues regarding human rights, governance, transnational crime and cyber security.
The USA communicated this to Bangladesh during the 5th Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue in Washington DC on Friday, said diplomatic sources.
“…we've long talked about our concerns over the situation in Bangladesh, and I – again, I would say that clearly those issues and our concerns were obviously part of the discussions here at the State Department,” US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said.
The US side lauded the Bangladesh government for taking appropriate measures to protect its diplomats in Dhaka following the killing of USAID staff Xulhaz Mannan two months ago.
Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque led a 13-member Bangladesh delegation to the meeting, while the US team was led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas A Shannon. The two-day dialogue ended on Friday.
The USA reiterated its commitment to boost Dhaka-Washington cooperation and to work together on regional and global issues.
Shannon told the meeting that his country was proud of its partnership with Bangladesh and was looking for deeper engagement with Dhaka in future.
The foreign secretary said the bilateral ties between the two countries have matured over the years.
The Partnership Dialogue, established in 2012, is a regularly planned policy consultation designed to advance the common agenda and opportunities for cooperation across the full range of bilateral and regional issues.
During the discussion, the US side wanted to know about the progress in the investigation into the killing of Xulhaz, also an LGBT rights activist.
The US officials said they were hoping to see a transparent investigation and conclusion of the government efforts to bring the perpetrators of the murder to justice.
Xulhaz and his friend Mahbub Tonoy were hacked to death inside the former's Kalabagan apartment in Dhaka on April 25.
The Bangladesh team apprised the US officials about the progress in investigations into various targeted murders, especially the secular bloggers, religious minorities, intellectuals and foreigners.
Both the delegations observed that terrorism is a global threat and agreed to work together globally and jointly.
According to meeting sources, the USA expressed its interest in employing armed Bangladeshi private security personnel for ensuring security of US officials in Dhaka.
Bangladeshi officials in response said the local law does not allow private security staff to use arms. They informed the US side about the effective security measures taken by law enforcement agencies. In this regard, they also mentioned about setting up of a security centre at the diplomatic zone in Dhaka recently.
Money laundering and terror financing, migration, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, trade and investment, environment and education also came up for discussion in the meeting.
In the plenary session of the dialogue on Friday, the progress of the working group discussions was reviewed by the co-chairs. Foreign Secretary Haque told the session about the Bangladesh government's vision and strategy to become a middle income country by 2021, having the intrinsic values of democracy, secularism and pluralism.
On the sidelines of the partnership dialogue, the foreign secretary met with senior US officials Nisha Desai Biswal, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs; Anne C Richard, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration; and Bathsheba Crocker, assistant secretary of state for international organisations; among others.