A deepened friendship between the US and Bangladesh

How Donald Lu's trip to Dhaka added to the prospect of strengthening bilateral relations

Many people believed that Bangladesh would never be able to stand on its own two feet after becoming an independent, sovereign nation. But that's no longer the case; Bangladesh is now praised for its accomplishments on a global scale.

On April 4, 1972, the US formally acknowledged Bangladesh's newfound independence. The two nations' relations have since improved in a number of areas. The US is currently one of Bangladesh's development partners. The link between Dhaka and Washington is reportedly stronger and more extensive than it has ever been.

Bangladesh and the US have shared historical experiences. Both nations share a strong belief in democracy and have endured bloody wars to gain their independence. The democratic process is ongoing. 

The US have witnessed heinous acts of violence and racism. The American people are openly and honestly discussing these concerns, and they are speaking up forcefully to make changes in society and hold lawmakers responsible. Bangladeshi citizens have dealt with a variety of issues over the years, and we are grateful for their bravery.

On Saturday, January 14, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Donald Lu, arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit. On Sunday, Lu met with Masood Bin Momen and paid a courtesy call to Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

All Dhaka-Washington relationship-related topics, including labour, human rights, elections, the Indo-Pacific strategy, trade, investment, and fuel, were discussed during Lu's visit. A report has been made public in the intervening years. He complimented RAB, the nation's elite force, for upholding law and order, and declared that RAB's achievement in lowering extrajudicial murders is outstanding, according to the article. The organization is doing a terrific job preventing terrorism and upholding law and order.

When asked why he was in Dhaka, Donald Lu stated, "I am here to enhance the friendship between the two countries at a time when the world is battling for peace and justice." Donald Lu responded to a question about if the US restriction on RAB was being lifted by saying, "We had a really excellent talk on RAB."

Anyone can see that the extraordinary improvement RAB has made in lowering the number of extrajudicial murders has been noted in this week's Human Rights Watch statement. This work is extraordinary. This demonstrates that RAB is effectively defending human rights while upholding law and order and suppressing terrorists. 

The relationship between the US and Bangladesh is multifaceted and includes strategic considerations in addition to bilateral ties. Bangladesh has good friendship with the US and the world superpower has a dependable ally in Bangladesh.

The current administration's foreign policy is, "friendliness with everyone, hostility with none." Lu's visit will hopefully deepen the bond between the two nations and contribute significantly to their overall growth.

The Assistant Secretary of State of the US' high-level visit to Bangladesh was intended to elevate their bilateral relationship to new levels. In the upcoming 50 years, all parties vowed to strengthen the current amicable ties between the two nations. Bangladesh's government and people valued Donald Lu's two-day visit as the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

The government provided a counterargument by criticizing the previous US elections and reiterating its assurance that the upcoming parliamentary elections will be conducted fairly, despite the US representative's calls for democracy, human rights, and the participation of all parties in the elections.

In addition to this, there have been speculations about fresh sanctions against Bangladesh for the past two months in both the public and the diplomatic sphere. However, there was no indication of that throughout the two-day visit by the US representative's round-trip meetings. Donald Lu, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to the government for acknowledging RAB's efforts and enabling BNP to have the rally on December 10.

Reviewing his trip reveals that both the US and Bangladesh treated the visit seriously in regards to a number of current issues, such as Bangladesh's participation in the Indo-Pacific strategy and the restoration of the GSP, as well as the upcoming national parliamentary elections, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the country's ban on RAB's top officials. During the high-level visit, the Assistant State Secretary not only hailed Bangladesh as one of the friendly nations but also provided guidance on current issues like labour rights, democracy, free and fair elections, and human rights.

He was particularly interested in learning whether participation in the upcoming national parliament election will be allowed at the highest level of government.

He has received assurances from the government that the upcoming elections will be impartial, fair, and free in accordance with the constitution. The US is a friendly nation, according to Foreign Minister Dr AK Momen. They will be given credit for any helpful recommendations if they are constructive. In the future, Bangladesh's ties to that nation will be stronger. In addition, Bangladesh will participate in the Indo-Pacific strategy, which will benefit the populace.

All parties in Bangladesh have the right to conduct peaceful political activity, according to Bangladesh's Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, who spoke to the American delegation. In the interest of security, law and order forces intervene if they damage people's property or obstruct highways.

In the future, the opposition party will be able to peacefully implement its agenda. He claimed that three months prior to the polls, the Independent Election Commission oversees the law-and-order forces. In the future, it won't be stopped.

According to former ambassador M Humayun Kabir, Bangladesh is experiencing a number of difficulties as a result of global price inflation brought on by the Coronavirus and Ukraine-Russia confrontation. Donald Lu's trip to Bangladesh was crucial in this circumstance. The US has recently given this part of Asia more attention. In addition, nations like India, China, Australia, and Japan are also emphasizing this issue. As a result, the GSP conversation with the US should go on.

The garment industry will develop if the GSP receives a favourable response. In addition, the majority of remittances are sent from within the nation. In this sense, awareness must be raised. Additionally, the national government is prioritizing international and climate change problems. The information should be properly emphasized from Bangladesh's perspective. However, the US and other nations should also consider the diplomatic approach Bangladesh has taken to keep its economy on top.

In a news release following Donald Lu's visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that several topics pertaining to the bilateral interests of Bangladesh and the US were discussed. The topics covered at Donald Lu's subsequent meetings with foreign leaders included trade, investment, aid for development, security, defense, the Indo-Pacific strategy, labour, democracy, and human rights. Bangladesh urged the US to help the 10 million forcibly displaced Myanmar people living there with humanitarian aid, repatriation, and resettlement.

Donald Lu thanked Bangladesh for giving the Rohingyas a place to live in Bangladesh, with the words directed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, the two countries expressed pleasure with the current state of their good relations and underlined the importance of keeping up this trend while also looking into new opportunities to increase bilateral commerce and cooperation. At this point, Ambassador Lu commended Bangladesh for attaining the goal of providing the Covid-19 vaccine with remarkable success.

Bangladesh expressed its gratitude to the US for delivering more than 10 crore Covid vaccinations at the conference.

In the case of a similar outbreak in the future, the US expressed interest in cooperating. In order to sustain a partnership that is inclusive of both parties, both parties decided to increase cooperation in other fields. Ambassador Lu expressed appreciation for Bangladesh's considerable socioeconomic progress and promised that the US government would continue to support and work with Bangladesh in all constructive endeavors.

Bangladesh will be the first country to regain GSP privileges, according to the US Assistant Secretary of State, if GSP is granted by the US Congress like the European market. In addition, he pledged to significantly develop trade ties with Bangladesh. Salman Fazlur, the Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Advisor, and Donald Lu met separately to discuss this promise.

Anup Sinha is a researcher and freelance columnist specializing in South Asian Affairs with a particular focus on the Rohingya issue, India-Bangladesh relations, water sharing, etc. He has an MSS degree in International Relations from the University of Dhaka.