Dhaka studying US Indo-Pacific Strategy: Momen

Ahead of US official Donald Lu’s visit, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Friday said Bangladesh stands ready to do whatever is needed for the people’s welfare, noting that the government is still studying the issues related to US Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).

“It’s not that transparent. It’s not mentioned there how it will bring benefits. We are studying,” he told reporters while talking about the IPS and its economic component.

Donald Lu, who became Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on September 15, 2021, is scheduled to arrive here on January 14 wrapping up his India tour.

“We will raise our issues. It’s very normal to have good relations between Bangladesh and the United States,” Momen said.

Donald Lu will have meetings on a range of priorities including energy, trade, security cooperation, religious freedom, labour, and human rights.

He will meet with senior Bangladeshi officials and civil society leaders to discuss strengthening their bilateral relationship, expanding economic engagement and hear their perspectives on labour and human rights, according to the US Department of State.

Momen said Bangladesh and the US believe in the same values and promote democracy and human rights.

Bangladesh has set an example in the world by sacrificing 30 lakh lives to establish democracy, ensure justice and human rights, Momen said, adding that “Our principles and values are almost the same.”
He said the US is a friendly country and Bangladesh accepts if they come up with any constructive suggestions.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said he sees the visit of Assistant Secretary Lu as part of regular engagements between the two sides.

“We will discuss whole range of issues, not that only election and human rights issues will be discussed,” said the foreign secretary.

He said there are many areas where Bangladesh has some expectations while the US side might have some expectations from Bangladesh. “We will discuss frankly.”

The FS said there are strategies on Indo-Pacific from the US, Canada, Japan and the European Union.

“It’s not that we are joining in any particular group or not. We are preparing some elements on how we want to see the Bay of Bengal and beyond,” Masud said.

During her visit to Bangladesh last week, US Senior Director for South Asia, National Security Council Eileen Laubacher said as a large portion of the Indo-Pacific region, the Bay of Bengal contains vital shipping lanes and undersea cables that power the region’s economies by moving food, fuel, goods, and data.

Ensuring these lanes remain free and open is imperative for the economic health and national security of the United States, Bangladesh, and all countries in the region, she told media.

The Bay is also a vital ecosystem and a microcosm for many of the shared non-traditional security issues “we face across the globe, from stemming the effects of climate change, countering illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing that can devastate food sources, and combatting the trafficking of people, arms, and narcotics” she said.

“These challenges cannot be overcome alone, they require cooperation,” she said adding that the United States and Bangladesh are working hard to address these challenges. “This is part of our shared vision for a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” she said.

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