US South and Central Asia Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Stone and US Deputy Chief of Mission in Dhaka JoAnne Wagner shared their views focusing on the IPS at a webinar on Tuesday evening.
“Bangladesh is a success story (on many fronts). We’re very grateful for Bangladesh’s commitment,” said Stone.They said the US will continue to partner with Bangladesh as the country has an essential role to play.
“We are very excited about working with Bangladesh under the auspices of IPS and also in terms of our bilateral relationship,” Wagner said adding that opportunities are incredible in Bangladesh.
They explained why Bangladesh is important and mentioned its strategic location, it’s over 160 million people and market.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh will effectively remain engaged in any future ‘Indo-Pacific Alliance’ for its economic aspects.
“We’re sure we’ll 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.
Asked whether the IPS is an initiative to contain any other country, the US officials ruled out such perception.In December last year, the United States said they have no issue with Bangladesh in improving relations with other countries mentioning that its IPS is not a direct counter to China or China’s BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).
“We expect Bangladesh will have good relations with its neighbours and we’ve 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 US said IPS is a free, open and inclusive vision, and they seek “stronger” defence relationship and closer partnership with Bangladesh.
In November 2017, US President Donald Trump outlined a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific in which all countries prosper alongside as sovereign, independent states.
This vision is based on values that have underpinned peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific for generations, according to the US government.
It said free, fair, and reciprocal trade, open investment environments, good governance, and freedom of the seas are goals shared by all who wish to prosper in a free and open future.
Both Stone and Wagner at the webinar laid emphasis on broader partnership and promoting economic prosperity.
They also put importance on people to people relations saying investment needs to be made in this regard.
The US officials expressed optimism that the goals for deeper partnership will be turned into reality.
On the Rohingya issue, the US officials laid emphasis on a “durable solution” to the Rohingya crisis saying the Rohingya people deserve return to their home in Rakhine.
They said the US is absolutely committed to a solution to the Rohingya crisis and emphasised creating a conducive environment for their safe, sustainable, voluntary and dignified repatriation.
Bangladesh has provided temporary shelter to over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district.