Beginning on Wednesday, senior officers and civilians from the US and Bangladeshi defense establishments will gather in Dhaka for two days to assess current bilateral defense relations and discuss future goals.
The Indo-Pacific area should be free, open, tranquil, and secure, according to the shared vision of the United States and Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Armed Forces Division and Indo-Pacific Command will meet in Dhaka on August 23 and 24 to conduct the Bilateral Defense Dialogue in order to further these shared goals.
Senior military officials and citizens from the US and Bangladeshi militaries will participate in this discussion. They will talk about military education, defense news, and forthcoming military drills, like the Disaster Response Exercise & Exchange for the following year.
The conversation is a component of a more extensive connection between their defense organizations, which includes collaboration on a wide range of defense-related issues.
At the first BD-US Security Dialogue in 2012, a joint declaration between the two nations launched their defense dialogue. The tenth episode will be this one.
Brig Gen Husain Muhammad Masihur Rahman, director general of the Bangladesh Armed Forces Division, will lead the Bangladeshi side while Brig Gen Thomas J. James, director of strategic planning and policy at the US Indo-Pacific Command, will lead the US side.
The United States and Bangladesh have collaborated on a variety of security-related topics for the past 50 years, including border and maritime security, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, defense trade, and the development of defense institutions.
The US interacts with Bangladesh through a number of bilateral and multilateral fora, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the US-Bangladesh Security Dialogue, and the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue.
According to the US embassy website, the US has given Bangladesh support with $7.29 million for international military education and training (IMET) and $66.9 million in foreign military financing (FMF) since 2015. The FMF assistance consists of $56.9 million in Bay of Bengal Initiative Regional FMF and $10 million in bilateral programming.
Through the assistance of FMF, the Bay of Bengal Initiative of the Department of State aims to strengthen the ability of civilian and military actors to identify illicit activity both within and beyond their borders, to establish networks and customs of cooperation to allow nations to share information, to increase their capacity to quickly respond to illicit activity, and to assist our partners in enabling a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean Region.
These funds have been used to buy patrol boats for the Bangladesh Army, more patrol boats for the Navy and Coast Guard, MRAP vehicles for border security and international peacekeeping missions, electronic and mechanical upgrades for the fast patrol boats and ex-U.S. Coast Guard cutters now used by the Bangladesh Navy, technical and professional training for Bangladesh military and Coast Guard personnel, and joint military exercises.
Under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, the US government has $130.59 million in active government-to-government sales cases with Bangladesh. In 2013 and 2015, Bangladesh also acquired two ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton Class cutters through EDA, which are now the two biggest ships in the Bangladesh Navy.
To reinforce its forces in Mali, Bangladesh also acquired 50 EDA MRAP trucks in 2019. Through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) procedure, the US additionally sanctioned the permanent export of defense goods worth over $6 million to Bangladesh in FY2019.
Aircraft and related items, supplies, and other items, as well as fire control, laser, imaging, and guiding systems, are the three main categories of DCS to Bangladesh.
The United States has provided close to $44 million since 2005 to fund training, equipment upgrades, and facility upgrades to strengthen Bangladesh's capacity for peacekeeping.
However, the US has been working toward signing an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Bangladesh. Recently, Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen ruled on the possibility of concluding such agreements prior to the general elections.
He has previously stated, "I don't think we have the luxury of signing such types of agreements before the election." Bangladesh has expressed interest in purchasing cutting-edge equipment from the US as part of its plan to upgrade its military by 2030, thus Washington wants to sign the two defense accords.
The GSOMIA ensures that countries recognize the need of protecting classified military information and make a commitment to doing so. ACSA enables the US military and the armed forces of its allies to buy and pay for common goods and services. Everything from food, water, clothing, transportation, instruction, oil, ammo, maintenance, and medical services could be included.
Relations between the United States and Bangladesh, however, have gotten more challenging recently. Washington imposed penalties on Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and a number of its current and former officers on December 10, 2021. The US has announced a new visa policy for Bangladesh. There are several problematic ties between Bangladesh and the USA.
Among these, the defense conversation is particularly crucial. However, Washington might continue to see Dhaka as a partner in regional security. The US is currently looking to partner with Bangladesh in a strategic alliance. Defense cooperation between states may increase bilateral ties and enhance defense connections between the two countries.
Bangladesh and the USA are both vital to the region. This conveyed that while having some differences, both countries are very keen in further strengthening their bilateral ties. This could help to resolve any bilateral concerns. Bangladesh and the USA must work as dependable partners to resolve some shared concerns.
The relationship between the United States and Bangladesh is crucial for a number of reasons. In terms of security, humanitarian assistance, and the economy, Bangladesh is first and foremost a crucial regional ally for the United States. Second, in counterterrorism efforts, Bangladesh has been an important strategic partner. Last but not least, the US wants to have a robust, all-encompassing partnership with Bangladesh based on shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights (US Department of State, 2021).
Why is the US concentrating on developing closer ties with Bangladesh?
As soon as the United States formally recognized the newly constituted Bangladesh on April 4, 1972, diplomatic relations between the two nations were established. Both nations have maintained cordial ties for the last 50 years. In the last ten years, cooperation in trade, investment, and security has stepped up, with a particular emphasis on counterterrorism.
The two-way commerce increased by 12% from the previous year to $9 billion in 2019, with $2.3 billion of that amount coming from US exports to Bangladesh. At the same time, Bangladesh's exports to the US increased by 9.5% to $6.7 billion.
Bangladesh is the third-largest recipient of US aid among countries in South Asia, highlighting the importance of their bilateral relations. The US has praised Dhaka for its admirable role in providing refuge to Rohingya refugees, demonstrating its dedication to humanitarianism.
The United States' heightened focus on Bangladesh's democracy and human rights calls for investigation into the underlying causes of this current strategy. One hypothesis is that the US sees the country occupying a strategic position within its Indo-Pacific strategy.
Bangladesh is still convinced of the value of the Non-Aligned Movement. It is imperative that the US recognise Dhaka's support for Washington.
While the US contends that the acts of the Rapid Action Battalion have a negative influence on the rule of law, human rights, fundamental freedoms, and economic advancement for the people of Bangladesh, Bangladesh claims that the US sanctions have geopolitical roots. Dhaka sees the US sanctions as a part of a larger geopolitical plan for South Asia.
While investment and sanctions continue to be Bangladesh's top priorities, the United States is concentrated on protecting its interests in the region. The US must defend its position in the Indo-Pacific in the face of continued great power rivalry. The US is planning to sign the GSOMIA and ACSA defense agreements with Bangladesh in order to accomplish this goal.
However, Dhaka's position is against signing any defense pacts before the elections, since the government's top concerns right now are development demands, as Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen remarked last week.
Both nations have been exhibiting signs of development for some time. While the US reaffirmed its commitment to working with Bangladesh to improve the human rights situation, Bangladesh established human rights cells and sent out human rights reports.
Last but not least, Bangladesh hopes to spur South Asian economic change by forming alliances with the US and the EU and cooperating to support the tenets of the Indo-Pacific strategy. If understood properly, this may result in the "revitalization of Bangladesh-US relations" in the ensuing era within this complicated international environment.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today paid rich tributes and offered prayers at the mausoleum of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman here.
She paid homage by placing a wreath at Bangabandhu's grave and joined a prayer this afternoon seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and other martyrs of August 15, 1975 carnage.
After laying the wreath, she stood in solemn silence for some time as a show of profound respect to the memory of the architect of independent Bangladesh.
Family members and Awami League (AL) leaders were present.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of the Awami League, on a personal trip reached her ancestral home at Tungipara in Gopalganj by road after crossing the Padma Bridge this afternoon.
After spending tonight at her Tungipara residence, she is scheduled to leave for Dhaka tomorrow.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen has pledged that Bangladesh would continue supporting the seven priorities of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General's Action for Peacekeeping agenda.
"Our principled position, rooted in the foreign policy dictum of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, serves as a guiding force. This stance consistently propels us force to actively participate in the peace endeavors of the UN including promoting culture of peace, contributing to peacekeeping operations and facilitating peacebuilding," he said.
The foreign minister was speaking as a panelist in the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday, according to a message received here today.
Momen, who is leading a high-level Bangladesh delegation, made peacekeeping pledges on behalf of Dhaka at the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial.
Earlier, Bangladesh Foreign Minister held a meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto on the sideline of the Ministerial.
The two foreign ministers discussed various issues of mutual interests in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the concession agreement on operation of Patenga Container Terminal (PCT) between Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and Saudi Arabia's company Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT) will help further enhance Saudi investment in Bangladesh.
"This concession agreement is a testament to our two countries' joint vision and steadfast commitment to economic cooperation and prosperity," she said.
The prime minister along with Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih witnessed the signing ceremony at her office here as CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Sohail and CEO of RSGT Jeans O. Foley inked the agreement.
The Saudi minister earlier paid a courtesy call on the Bangladesh premier at her office in the morning.
"As we witness the signing of this concession agreement, we look forward to a future where Patenga Container Terminal will become a driving force for economic growth and prosperity in Bangladesh," Sheikh Hasina said at the signing ceremony.
She said that the RSGT will operate the Patenga Container Terminal for the next 22 years that will strengthen bilateral relations, especially in the field of trade and commerce.
The Chittagong Port Authority's Patenga Container Terminal Project is a beacon of hope for Bangladesh's economic uplift, she added.
The premier said this self-reliant modern terminal will enhance the capacity of port, facilitate seamless trade, and create job opportunities and entrepreneurship.
"It will act as a gateway to global trade, opening up new opportunities for our businesses to connect with the world," she said.
The terminal will help boost regional economic growth as India, Bhutan and Nepal can also use the terminal, she also said.
Sheikh Hasina said the investment of Saudi Arabia in the Patenga Container Terminal will enhance the image of Bangladesh on the global stage.
The prime minister described Saudi Arabia as a friendly country and an important development partner for Bangladesh.
"The people of Bangladesh have deep respect and trust for the people of Saudi Arabia. We have always found Saudi Arabia close to our hearts," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the RSGT is a reputed global terminal operator designated by the Saudi government.
She also expressed her sincere thanks and congratulations to the Saudi government for appointing this terminal operator to operate the Patenga Container Terminal.
"This initiative of the Saudi authorities is undoubtedly a recognition of the ongoing development and economic potential of Bangladesh," she said.
"I hope that RSGT, with its reputation for managing Jeddah port and other terminals, will manage the Patenga container terminal with its skills and technical know-how," she added.
By doing this, the head of the government said the Chittagong port operations will become more efficient and meet international standards.
"Consequently, our economy will benefit from a significant decrease in import-export expenses," she said.
The premier also expressed her deep gratitude to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, for their trust and cooperation with the government and people of Bangladesh.
She thanked to the Saudi investment minister and his delegation for their firm support in the implementation of this project.
"Your commitment to the economic development of Bangladesh is deeply appreciated," she said.
PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih and Chairman of the RSGT Aamer A. Alireza spoke at the function as State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury delivered the opening remarks.
Ambassador of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh Essa bin Yousuf Al Duhailan as well as Saudi and Bangladeshi businessmen were present.
Awami League (AL) General Secretary
Obaidul Quader today said the AL is working to ensure a flawless democracy in
"The Awami League is working to ensure a flawless democracy in the country . . . The quarter which wants to foil the polls by enforcing hartal and blockade is not any more a democratic force," he told newsmen here today.
Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said this while talking to reporters after paying tributes to Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy by placing a wreath at his grave near Doyel Chattar in the capital, on the occasion of his 60th death anniversary.
He added: "I don't know whether absolutely flawless democracy or any perfect democracy exists anywhere in the world. But Bangladesh is working for it."
The AL is struggling to make the democracy of Bangladesh free from all sorts of defects and it has become possible to make an independent situation for the democracy in Bangladesh by dint of the personal efforts of the AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he observed.
Replying to a query of reporters on Awami League's Dhaka rally on December 10, the AL general secretary said, Awami Legaue decided to hold a rally on December 10 marking the Human Rights Day. But the decision was canceled as the Election Commission denied giving permission."
On the Human Rights Day, he said that the AL had a programme to hold a big rally at the South Gate of Baitul Mukarram, and now the rally will be held inside respecting the electoral rules.
Paying tributes to the memory of Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Obaidul Quader said, "Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy, a pioneer of democracy, was a fearless hero of the democracy."
Suhrawardy fought his whole life for democracy and served in jail many times by Pakistani forces, the AL general secretary added.
Awami League presidium member Dr Abdur Razzaque, joint general secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, organizing secretary BM Mozammel Haque, office secretary Barrister Biplab Barua, education and human resource affairs secretary Shamsunnahar Chapa, agriculture and cooperatives affairs secretary Faridunnahar Laily, deputy publicity and publication affairs secretary Syed Abdul Awal Shamim, deputy secretary Sayem Khan and executive member Sahabuddin Faraji, among others, were present.
A total of 253 arson attacks have been recorded till 6 am today during the blockades and hartals called by BNP, Jamaat and like-minded opposition parties since the end of October.
An arson attack was reported between 6 am on December 4 till 6 am today during the second day of the latest road, rail and waterways blockade called by the opposition parties.
The arson attack was carried out in Dhaka’s Gulistan area at 2:23 pm on Monday, said Shahjahan Sikder, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters’ media cell.
A total of 10 members of two firefighting units worked to douse the fire, added the fire official.
Giving a break today, the BNP and like-minded opposition parties are going to enforce another 48-hour road-rail-waterway blockade across the country starting from Wednesday morning to protest the schedule for the next national election announced by the Election Commission (EC).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today paid rich tributes and offered prayers at the mausoleum of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman here. She paid homage by placing a wreath at Bangabandhu's grave and joined a prayer this afternoon seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and other martyrs of August 15, 1975 carnage.
A total of 253 arson attacks have been recorded till 6 am today during the blockades and hartals called by BNP, Jamaat and like-minded opposition parties since the end of October. An arson attack was reported between 6 am on December 4 till 6 am today during the second day of the latest road, rail and waterways blockade called by the opposition parties.