While addressing an international conference on ‘Moving Forward in the Indo-Pacific: Bangladesh’s Role in Fostering an Open, Resilient, and Interconnected Bay of Bengal and Beyond’ the US envoy said the IPS is not designed to make anyone choose between countries.
One of the key tenets of the strategy is that every country should be able to choose its own path, free from pressure or coercion, he said.
The Indo-Pacific Strategy is not a military alliance. Nor does it seek to become one
The US Embassy in Dhaka and the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) jointly organised the conference at the university auditorium.
The US ambassador said they will seek “closer security cooperation” with partners to tackle challenges – violent extremism, illegal fishing and human trafficking where Bangladesh has made incredible strides.
“The United States is proud to partner with Bangladesh on these challenges and more,” he said.
Ambassador Haas said they are developing a comprehensive Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which will include shared objectives in key areas – climate and clean energy, fair trade facilitation, resilient supply chains, and the digital economy.
“I look forward to working on these issues with the people and the government of Bangladesh in the coming months,” he said, adding that they will bolster Indo-Pacific security.
Noting that Russia’s “brutal and unprovoked invasion” of Ukraine is a wake-up call to the world, the US ambassador said threats are evolving and security approaches must evolve with them.
He said, last year they provided 10 Metal Shark Boats and as many as Defender Class Boats to the Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Coast Guard.
These vessels will support Bangladesh’s ability to secure its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, counter-trafficking efforts, and remain a bulwark against piracy in the Bay of Bengal, he said.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in a video message said Bangladesh believes in a free and open Indo-Pacific and international rules-based system.
Bangladesh is eager to harness the potential of the blue economy, he said seeking the support of all.
Ambassador Haas said a free and open Indo-Pacific is also a region where goods, ideas, and people flow freely across the lands, cyberspace, and the open seas.
“We’ll work with Bangladesh and other partners to ensure the region’s seas and skies are governed and used according to international law,” said the US envoy.
Foreign Secretary (West) Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhury, EU Special Envoy for Indo-Pacific Gabriele Visentin and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami also spoke at the discussion, moderated by former Ambassador and director of the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies Tariq A. Karim.