US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall G Schriver says it is not direct counter to BRI
The United States on Wednesday said they have no issue with Bangladesh in improving relations with other countries mentioning that its Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) is not a direct counter to China or China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“We expect Bangladesh will have good relations with its neighbours and we have no issue with Bangladesh in improving relations with other countries,” said US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall G Schriver.
The senior US defence official, while talking to a small group of journalists at a city hotel before wrapping up his brief visit, said the IPS is a free, open, and inclusive vision and they seek “stronger” defence relationship and closer partnership with Bangladesh, reports UNB.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen recently said Bangladesh will effectively remain engaged in any future “Indo-Pacific Alliance” for its economic aspects.
“We are sure we will be effectively engaged in any future Indo-Pacific Alliance if it’s found to be purely economic in nature,” he said adding that Bangladesh has already joined China’s BRI.
Schriver said it happens to be the case that the BRI being driven by Chinese interest does have a particular impact on many countries that “concerns” them.
“The IPS empowers Bangladesh and every other country in the region to create their own destiny, and to not merely accept a destiny dictated to them by any other nation,” said the senior US official.
“It encourages countries to recognize their own leverage in negotiating deals that protect their sovereignty and increase economic development – and for Bangladesh, support your goal of middle-income country status by 2021.”
During his meetings with top government and military officials, Schriver talked about the IPS that has several pillars, including economic, good governance, and security.
Being part of the department of defence, he focused mostly on the security pillar of the IPS and explained their vision which is an inclusive one.
US seeks stronger defence ties with Bangladesh
Schriver mentioned that USA seeks stronger defence relationship and closer partnership with Bangladesh.
The US side discussed a number of initiatives to strengthen defence partnership and cooperation, including the proposed two “foundational defence” agreements – General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA).
Responding to a question on GSOMIA and ACSA, Schriver said they want to do these in a correct way in terms of making sure that they have mutual confidence and both sides see benefits.
He said the “sense of urgency” relates to the fact that they want to do more and want to advance the defence relationship with further cooperation.
He said they also discussed priority areas – counterterrorism, maritime security and internal challenges to Rohingya situation to understand how the two countries can be good partner and support Bangladesh address its challenges.
Schriver appreciated Bangladesh’s contribution to peacekeeping operations with tremendous record.
On Rohingya issue, the US defence official laid emphasis on “durable solution” to Rohingya crisis with “conditions appropriate and conducive” for peaceful return of Rohingyas that needs to be sustained.
The US senior official said they have a very limited defence engagement or military-to-military engagement with Myanmar.