Donald Lu arrives in Dhaka

Foreign Ministry Director General Khandker Masudul Alam welcomes Donald Lu at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka 0n 14 May 2024.Courtesy: US embassy

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu has arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday morning.

During his visit, he will meet with government officials, civil society leaders, and other Bangladeshis to discuss US-Bangladesh cooperation, including addressing the climate crisis and deepening economic ties, according to X of the US embassy in Dhaka.

The foreign ministry also confirmed this to Prothom Alo.

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

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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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.

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.

Donald Lu visited India, Sri Lanka from 10 to 14 May. His trip will strengthen bilateral cooperation with each country and demonstrate US support for a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

In Chennai, Assistant Secretary Lu met with Consulate personnel to bolster bilateral engagement in southern India.

He then travelled to Colombo to engage with officials from across the political spectrum and deepen the United States’ partnership with Sri Lanka.

In his meetings, he reaffirmed the United States’ support for Sri Lanka’s economic recovery, as well as the importance of a robust civil society as a cornerstone of a free and democratic society.

Assistant Secretary Lu will conclude his trip in Dhaka.

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