Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen briefed the media on the recently concluded visit to the US, in Dhaka on Monday.

He said both the minister and the secretary talked to the representatives of the US government at various levels as well as several members of the US Senate and the Congress. The US politicians expressed interest to form the Bangladesh Caucus. Dhaka is also considering the formation of Bangladesh Caucus in the US Senate in its future priority because if such caucus is in operation, Bangladesh has an opportunity to present its position on the RAB sanctions or during the hearing at the US Senate and the Congress.

The foreign secretary said the US mentioned they are keen to strengthen ties with Bangladesh during the talks at various levels including the bilateral meeting of the foreign ministers and the security dialogue.

Masud Bin Momen said he had an hour-long courtesy call with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and they both discussed all issues related to bilateral relations. “This is evident that they are emphasising on strengthening ties.”

The foreign secretary further said there might be some difference in opinions in diplomatic relations. Now how one will fulfill other’s expectation becomes a challenge. The challenges that lie in diplomatic relations cannot be overcome overnight but these obstacles can be handled once both parties work together.

Eye on next election

After the meeting between Wendy Sherman and Masud Bin Momen, the US Department of State spokesperson said the deputy secretary emphasised the importance of protecting human rights, the rule of law, and freedom of expression.

When asked, the foreign secretary said, “The US has raised issues so that the next election is held fairly and they have been also informed that we too want to see a free, fair and participatory election.”

The US was also informed that government formulated a law on formation of election commission for the first time. The election commission has been formed. If all political parties do not take part in the election, and if they take a stance before the election, then what would be the role of the government, they have been informed about that.

Withdrawal of sanction to take time

Citing Bangladesh and the US differ in several issues, Masud Bin Momen said many people commented on a strained relations because of the sanctions on RAB but Bangladesh clarified its position during this visit, especially talks were held on how to overcome the situations that aroused due to the ban. The US was also informed about what measures Bangladesh has been taken so far in this regard.

In replying to a question, the foreign secretary said Bangladesh requested for complete withdrawal of the ban, not a partial one. But the US said this withdrawal will be carried out through a legal process and such practice was followed in the past.

“We have requested the US to continue the training to the law enforcement agencies. And, Bangladesh will go by the legal process for the withdrawal of the sanctions,” Masud Bin Momen said.

Preference in GSOMIA now

Bangladesh also discussed General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) to procure arms with advance technology from the US.

“We will try to finalise the GSOMIA first but it will take time,” Masud Bin Momen said adding, 'it’s not something that we would procure defence equipment just after singing GSOMIA and though it is essential for the procurement of advanced defence equipment but Bangladesh has no initiative to procure defence equipment right now.

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