US willing to include Bangladesh in IPS

US National Security Council's senior director for South Asia Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher.

The United States' move to include Bangladesh in the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) has come to the fore again.

Besides, the US has given importance to the cooperation between two countries over maritime security.

Sources said these issues came up for discussions during the meeting between foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen and US National Security Council's senior director for South Asia Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher at the state guest house Padma in the capital on Monday.    

During the meeting, Bangladesh requested the USA to put more pressure on Myanmar to solve the Rohingya crisis.

Moreover, US cooperation has been sought to enhance the capacity of law enforcing agencies in Bangladesh.

US president Joe Biden's special assistant and US National Security Council's senior director for South Asia Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher came to Bangladesh on a four-day visit on Saturday.  Laubacher left Dhaka on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Dhaka in its Facebook page said during this visit she visited Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.

In Dhaka, she has met the prime minister's security affairs advisor major general (Retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique and foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen.

Laubacher also meets with the civil society leaders to discuss the current situation of human rights, rule of law and security in Bangladesh.

While talking to several diplomats who were present during the meeting between Masud Bin Momen and Laubacher at Padma on Monday, it was learnt Laubacher at her first visit to Bangladesh has tried to understand various aspects of relations between two countries.

Instead of placing any specific issue, she learnt the position of Bangladesh and conveyed her country's position.

The US has launched IPS in a bid to make the Indo-Pacific region rich, free, and connected.

Pointing out the overall aspects of two countries, the foreign secretary in the meeting said the work on the position paper of Bangladesh over IPS is going on. Bangladesh is interested to work for any initiative in light of economic development and foreign policy.

At the time the US National Security Council's senior director said her country does not want to put pressure on any country to join IPS.

The strategy that has been formulated centering on the Indo-Pacific region, US is emphasizing on the interest of countries there. In this contest, the US is interested in the involvement of like-minded countries like Bangladesh.

Sources said the Rohingya issue was discussed in the meeting. It was said there that Rohingyas are being victims of human trafficking and illegally taking risky journeys on the sea towards different countries. Simultaneously, they are involved in different types of narcotics trade.

Another source said the US can assist in providing training or different security equipment to prevent smuggling. The country can provide ships to prevent illegal migration.

About the discussion on security cooperation in the meeting, a source said the foreign secretary placed the issue of withdrawing the US sanction on RAB. Imposition of sanctions on a special force like RAB working to tackle militancy and terrorism is a problem and cooperation was sought to overcome the crisis.

The foreign secretary also pointed out whether the US can assist in enhancing capacity if this force has any problem in discharging duties.

At the time, the Biden administration's senior officer said the US is interested in assisting the law enforcing agencies of Bangladesh.

Diplomatic sources said Bangladesh strongly pressed for a solution to the Rohingya crisis. Despite lapses of five years, a Rohingya could not be sent back. The progress of this crisis could not be achieved due to negligence of Myanmar. Mass killing took place in 2017 and the US made the declaration in this regard.

In terms of security, the Rohingya crisis is being considered on a big scale. The solution to this crisis depends on the stability of this region. Dhaka has requested the US to perceive the matter.