Bangladesh does not feature in the joint statement issued following the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between defence ministers and foreign ministers of India and the United States. It is clear that no consensus was reached between the two countries on the issue of Bangladesh’s elections.
At a press briefing after the talks between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries, the Indian external affairs secretary Vinay Kwatra made India’s stand on Bangladesh’s election very clear. Certain words made India’ view extremely clear concerning it close neighbour Bangladesh. Alongside the use of terms such as Bangladesh’s ‘democratic process’, ‘stability’ and ‘peace’, it also highlighted its expectations for the ‘progressive country’. India did not hesitate it expressing its priorities.
However, we do not know what the US has said at the meeting. That could mean that differences had cropped up between India and the US over the issue of Bangladesh, particularly the issue of Bangladesh’s elections. Incidentally, the US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby recently said India had appised the US about its position concerning Bangladesh. The US too had apprised India of its stance concerning Bangladesh. So it does not seem that either country has changed positions at the recent Delhi dialogue.
It is clear that bilateral issues were given priority at the 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries. Issues pertaining to the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), China, Middle East and Europe were discussed. They discussed matters of infrastructure development and connectivity. Both sides have interest in these areas.
If inclusive elections are held in Bangladesh, this will have a positive impact on Bangladesh’s relations with the US.
The stand of the US must be viewed in the international perspective and India’s in a regional context. Strengthening democracy globally is an integral part of the US foreign policy. And so if inclusive elections are held in Bangladesh, this will have a positive impact on Bangladesh’s relations with the US. On the other hand, over the past two decades, Bangladesh’s relations with India have grown extremely strong. That is why India is prioritising stability.
* Humayun Kabir is former ambassador of Bangladesh to the United States.