The Bangladesh-US security dialogue due on Wednesday will discuss issues such as withdrawal of US sanctions on RAB, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Bangladesh’s participation in Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).

Officials of the foreign ministry disclosed this information to Prothom Alo on Sunday.

At the eighth security dialogue, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen will lead the Bangladesh delegation while undersecretary for arms control and international security Bonnie Denise Jenkins will lead the US delegation.

Masud Bin Momen told Prothom Alo on Sunday that certain issues of security and defence will be tabled during the dialogue. Bangladesh will push for the withdrawal of sanctions against RAB. As the two countries have excellent cooperation in fighting terrorism, the sanctions on RAB are not conducive to security cooperation. Moreover, issues such as IPS, defence agreements and security cooperation will be on the agenda.

Some regular diplomatic meetings between the two countries could not be held due to the coronavirus situation in the last two years. The US imposed sanctions on some RAB officials alleging human rights violations in December, which somewhat disrupted diplomatic relations between Dhaka and Washington.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen will hold a meeting with US secretary of state Antony Blinken Monday to mark 50 years of bilateral relations. The two foreign ministers would discuss where both countries want to see their relations in the next 50 years.

Some officials, however, identified some challenges including sanctions on RAB, the US expectation over the stance of Bangladesh on the Ukraine issue and Bangladesh’s participation in IPS.

A Bangladeshi official on condition of anonymity said the fate of the Russia-Ukraine war is still uncertain and Bangladesh will adopt a stance in consideration of its national interests while emphasising the end of war. Bangladesh will try to maintain neutrality on the issue.

US under secretary of state Victoria Nuland following partnership dialogue with Bangladesh on 20 March said, there are economic, security and technological aspects in the IPS and US would be happy if Bangladesh joins most of these initiatives.

The foreign secretary said Bangladesh emphasises on the economic aspects of the IPS. Bangladesh stressed that IPS would not be used against any quarter.

More time needed for defence agreement

As per the goal undertaken to modernise the armed forces of the country, Bangladesh is prioritising on finding various sources to acquire cutting edge arms. As part of this goal, Bangladesh is discussing two defence agreements-- GSOMIA and Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA)—for expanding opportunities for defence trade. The US has handed over Bangladesh the updated draft of GSOMIA during the partnership dialogue.

A Bangladeshi official on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo that discussion would be held on the draft of GSOMIA but Bangladesh would not finalise it during the dialogue. But there is no headway regarding ACSA as yet.

Former ambassador of Bangladesh to the US, M Humayun Kabir, on Sunday told Prothom Alo that bilateral relations are important to both countries. While Bangladesh sees the relations from a bilateral perspective, the US sees it from the global perspective.

Bangladesh should stress strengthening relations with the US upon in-depth analysis, he added.