Donald Lu due in Dhaka Tuesday

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu speaks at a seminar marking the 2nd anniversary of the Indo-Pacific Strategy on 15 FebruaryScreengrab of a video from YouTube channel United States Institute of Peace

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Donald Lu, is scheduled to arrive on a three-day visit in Dhaka Tuesday.

He will discuss trade and investment, security, climate change, citizens’ rights and other prioritised issues with government officials and other non-government stakeholders.

Donald Lu is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka from Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka, in the first half of the day, said diplomatic sources.

This is his first visit as a senior official of the US state department since the 12th parliamentary election on 7 January.

Donald Lu will attend a dinner that will be hosted by the prime minister’s private industry and investment advisor Salman F Rahman Tuesday night.

On the second day of his visit, Lu will hold a bilateral meeting with foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen. Later, he will pay a courtesy call on foreign minister Hasan Mahmud.

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He is also likely to hold a meeting with civil society representatives.

Speaking about the visit of Donald Lu, several relevant officials told this correspondent that the US President Joe Biden sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in February. There the US clarified its thoughts on relations with Bangladesh.

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The officials said President Biden mentioned “starting the new chapter of US-Bangladesh partnerships” in the letter, which made it clear that the US wants to focus on further progressing its relations with Bangladesh. He also mentioned several priorities, including regional and global security, economic development, climate change and energy, global health, humanitarian assistance (Rohingya crisis), in terms of partnerships with Bangladesh. Donald Lu’s visit will give an idea about other sectors of the US priorities in terms of its relationship with Bangladesh.

Analysing the discussions in the last several months, multiple diplomatic sources in Dhaka, however, said good governance, accountability, human rights and democratic values are the most important factors of the foreign policy of the US. That is why there is no possibility of those issues not getting priority in discussions. But the US is not highlighting those issues after the elections as the US takes the issues into consideration from a global standard. The issues have not even been mentioned in the US state department’s statement regarding the visit of Donald Lu in Bangladesh. Maybe the US wants to further the relations between the two countries focusing on other issues than democratic values at the moment.

Another official hinted that the US might put stress on labour rights issues in the coming days to advance the relationship.

Michael Schiffer, assistant administrator of the United States Agency for International Development was part of the US delegation led by Eileen Lubacher, the US President’s special assistant and a senior director on South Asia affairs of the National Security Council (NSC), in February. During the visit, he exchanged views with the workers’ leader.

In April, US assistant trade representative for Central and South Asia Brendan Lynch stressed on improving the labour situation in Bangladesh during his meeting with prime minister’s commerce advisor Salman F Rahman and law minister Anisul Haque.

When the US is stressing on trade and investment, progress in labour rights situation would remain as one of the prime factors in that case, think several officials in Dhaka.