Bangladesh-US keen to begin new chapter in relations: Foreign minister

Foreign minister Hasan Mahmud and the US delegation pose for a photoFacebook page US embassy Dhaka

Bangladesh and the United States are interested in starting a new chapter in relations, said Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud on Sunday.

He further said that the issue was discussed with the visiting US delegation in a very cordial atmosphere for more than an hour.

The members of the US delegation led by special assistant to the president and Senior Director of South Asia Affairs of the National Security Council Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher met the Foreign Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.

The foreign minister informed the media after the meeting.

The US delegation also included Assistant Administrator at USAID Bureau for Asia Michael Schiffer and US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Afreen Akhter.

“How they (the US) can help us in our development journey and how to increase investment in Bangladesh was also discussed. Our mutual interest in starting a new chapter in the relationship was discussed in a very cordial atmosphere. We discussed it for more than an hour,” Hasan Mahmud stated.

The foreign minister also informed the media that talks have been held with US officials regarding bringing Bangabandhu’s self-confessed killer Rashed Chowdhury back to the country. “They are waiting for a decision from their judiciary regarding Rashed Chowdhury and they have informed us about it,” he added.

The cooperation between the two countries on security issues and the cooperation in international forums were also discussed, the foreign minister expressed.

When asked about the discussion on the agreements on GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) and ACSA (Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement), Hasan Mahmud stated, “No specific agreement was discussed. But we are working on GSOMIA.”

Foreign minister Hasan Mahmud talks to the media
Courtesy Foreign Ministry

In response to a question of a newsperson, the foreign minister said that there was no discussion on the recently concluded parliamentary election, meeting with the civil society and the country’s human rights situation.

Mentioning that there was a discussion on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Hasan Mahmud said, “They informed us about five observations. We are working on those observations and they have started working on how to lift the sanctions.”

The foreign minister further said about the five observations on the lifting of sanctions against RAB, “They will inform us and we will convey those to RAB. We are waiting for details from them.”

The foreign minister also informed the media that the situation in Myanmar has created a security risk in Bangladesh and the matter was discussed in the meeting. “I have handed over to her (Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher) the reply to the letter that President Joe Biden sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Our ambassador in Washington will deliver to her the original copy of the letter.”

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Dhaka said in a post on its Facebook page about this meeting, “The United States supports a prosperous, secure, and #democratic Bangladesh. We discussed with the Foreign Minister, how our two countries can work on mutual interests, including #economic development, #security, #refugees, #climate, #labor, and #trade. #Bangladesh is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region.”