The US military wants to develop a partnership with Bangladesh military and engage more with the latter for mutual benefit, a senior US military official said.
Brig Gen Dagvin Anderson, deputy director for operations of US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), made the remark during an interactive session with journalists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in Hawaii's Honolulu.
The journalists were taking part in a reporting tour titled “Amplifying the Indo-Pacific Strategy” on November 1.
Responding to questions on Bangladesh, he said, “... with Bangladesh we have had great cooperation.”
He also said Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between Bangladesh and US militaries in summer this year was very successful and positive. “We look forward to more engagement with Bangladesh. We think that's a great partnership to develop, and we look forward to more engagement on the mil-to-mil side.”
When asked to comment on the Rohingya issue, Brig Gen Dag said, “...That's a State Department and national leadership issue.”
Regarding China's growing forays into the Indian Ocean region, he said “We are not against the fact that China wants to have a global presence and wants to be involved globally, so long as they don't want to subvert or change a system that has been working very well for the last several decades.”
If China wants to come out and join in anti-piracy, peace keeping, and ensure that “we have a free and open system, and then I welcome that, if they want to participate,” he said, adding, “What I have seen though is... when they come out and they expand, is they don't partner with many other nations. They don't join in multilateral efforts. And they want to do it separately or on their own.”
Meanwhile, the US Defence officials, during the journalists' 10-day tour in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and San Diego, said the US has a common interest in a “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy”, in access to free markets and freedom from coercion and fear.
“As a Paciﬁc nation with tremendous regional interests, the United States is committed to the protection and defence of the territories of the United States, its people and interests in the region,” said a senior US defence official, adding, “The US has been committed to this region for well over 70 years and the US has an interest in maintaining security, stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”