Flags of Bangladesh and the US

The United States wants to establish a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region to reduce China’s influence. To achieve the goal, the US expects an active role from partners like Bangladesh in the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS). According to diplomatic sources, what will be the role of Bangladesh in this matter will be important in the security dialogue between the two countries in Dhaka.

The 10th defence dialogue between Bangladesh and the US is set to begin on Wednesday. The US delegation headed by Brigadier General Thomas J. James, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy of the US Indo-Pacific Command arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday afternoon to join the two-day dialogue. Brigadier general Husain Muhammad Masihur Rahman, Director General at the Bangladesh Armed Forces Division (AFD) will lead the Bangladeshi side in the meeting.

The diplomatic sources informed Prothom Alo, apart from IPS, during the dialogue as part of defence pact General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Acquisition Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), regional and global security, cooperation between military forces of both the countries, military equipment, disaster management, keeping and establishing peace, training, exchange of tours of military officers of both the countries, suppressing terrorism and many other topics will be discussed. At the discussion of IPS Washington will emphasise democracy and human rights, because it is currently the global priority for the US.

Bangladesh wants to modernise the military forces to implement the Forces Goal-2030. The government is working to reduce the dependence on a single country for arms procurement

Since 2019, two defence agreements -- GSOMIA and ACSA -- have been discussed at various levels between the two countries. According to the diplomatic sources of Bangladesh, there has been a lot of progress regarding the signing of GSOMIA. Bangladesh has so far been very positive about signing this special agreement. At the moment, the two sides are negotiating the draft of the agreement. Although there is discussion about ACSA, there is not much progress there.

While asked about purchasing military weapons from the US, a senior official said, Bangladesh is considering three things in this regard. The first is that Bangladesh wants to buy weapons according to its economic capacity. That is, the price of weapons is the first consideration of Bangladesh. The second is to ensure the quality of weapons. The Ministry of External Affairs will play a role in procuring good quality weapons at affordable prices. And the third thing is to consider the strategic aspect in the procurement of weapons. Bangladesh will collect weapons considering the strategic aspects in the geopolitical context.

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Another source, however, said that Bangladesh has taken a policy decision on GSOMIA between the two defence deals with the US. But now Dhaka is adopting a go-slow policy with the agreement. Recently, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said in response to the questions of newspersons that there is no possibility of a defence agreement with the US before the upcoming parliament elections.

Bangladesh wants to modernise the military forces to implement the Forces Goal-2030. The government is working to reduce the dependence on a single country for arms procurement. As part of that, Bangladesh wants to buy advanced weapons from the United States as well as other sources.

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US willing to include Bangladesh in IPS

In 2018, Bangladesh proposed to buy advanced weapons from the United States. The US has so far not sold advanced technology weapons without a specialised defence contract. For this, the US offered Bangladesh to sign the GSOMIA and ACSA agreements.