Dhaka to weigh all aspects before taking int'l help
With the international community offering to assist in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, the government says it will think over all the aspects before accepting foreign support.
In the latest response to the two back-to-back terror attacks in the first week of this month, top American diplomat for south and central Asian affairs Nisha Desai Biswal yesterday offered “US expertise” in building Bangladesh's counter-terrorism capabilities.
The US stands by Dhaka in countering terrorism, she said.
Dhaka is positive about taking help from other countries but the question is the support would come in what form, diplomatic sources said.
The government is careful about deciding how other nations can help in its counter-terrorism activities, said a high official of the foreign ministry.
Following a meeting with Biswal, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said, “We discussed how the current problem can be addressed. They [US] proposed to support at various levels, which will be discussed further.”
“Our commitment to Bangladesh remains as robust as ever. We will continue our assistance in combating the global threat of terrorism that our countries both confront,” said the US diplomat at the meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and the foreign secretary.
She discussed the bilateral relations and the security situation in Bangladesh.
Against the backdrop of the terror attack at Holey Artisan Restaurant in Dhaka on July 1, in which militants killed 17 foreigners, including a US-Bangladesh citizen, Biswal, US assistant secretary for south and central Asian affairs, arrived here on a two-day visit yesterday morning.
Upon her arrival, Biswal met the US embassy officials. She will meet Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and host a dinner today for diplomatic representatives of different countries to discuss the situation in Bangladesh.
Following the worst-ever terror attack in the country, Dhaka found global powers, including the US, Russia, UK, China, India and others offering their support to Bangladesh in the global fight against the evils of terrorism and extremism.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who made a phone call to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on July 3, offered immediate assistance from the US law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.
Foreign Secretary Haque briefed the media on the meeting with Biswal, which focused on Bangladesh's bilateral relations with the United States and the security situation.
The two sides discussed training of law enforcers and new strategies to counter terrorism, he said.
There had been discussions on technical support in the past. “Their expert teams are continuing to help Bangladesh. We discussed [this time] how these efforts can be intensified,” said the foreign secretary.
Shahidul said Biswal had offered the US expertise that “we are already taking in many ways” in combating terrorism.
Biswal is expected to hold another round of meetings with top leaders today, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi, and the business community.
Earlier, she visited Dhaka on May 5-6 after the brutal murder of USAID staff Xulhaz Mannan in Dhaka.
Nisha Desai Biswal and High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla had a meeting at the residence of the US ambassador yesterday evening.
A highly-placed diplomatic source told The Daily Star that Biswal and Shringla discussed about the current security situation in Bangladesh following the July 1 and July 7 terror attacks in Dhaka and Kishoreganj.
“It was a very good meeting and both the countries are keen to support the government of Bangladesh in its fight against terrorism. So our objectives coincide,” said an Indian diplomat, wishing not to be named.
“We believe the international community needs to come together in this common endeavour,” he added.
The diplomat further said the United States, India and Bangladesh are the on the “same page” in fighting terrorism and violent extremism, but India has different views on the Bangladesh situation which does not always match with that of the US. However, the common goal is curbing terrorism and extremism, he added.
Shringla and Biswal had met last in May in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, a diplomatic source told The Daily Star that both the US and Bangladesh are finding out new strategies for countering terrorism.
The US want to have an anti-terrorism deal with Bangladesh under which America will support expertise in building counterterrorism capabilities, latest tech-intelligence training, cyber security and learn to gather intelligence in a better way from the Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies to prevent future attacks.
Dhaka has taken the US proposal positively in accepting supports from the US and agreed to continue discussion on the deal, the source added.