by Staff Correspondent, Dhaka;
Washington wants to get Dhaka a bit closer to establish peace and justice across the world, a top US official said while visiting Bangladesh.
“I’ve came here to strengthen the friendship between the two countries at a time when a struggling is on for establishing global peace and justice,” Donald Lu, the US Assistant Secretary of the State for South and Central Asia, told reporters in Dhaka on Sunday.
The US official arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit to Bangladesh on Saturday, and departed for Washington on Saturday after holding a series of meetings with Bangladeshi officials. He had meetings with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Prime Minister’s Private Sector Affairs Adviser Salman F Rahman and a host of civil society members among others.
The visit by a senior US official is considered important, especially at a time when Bangladesh is taking preparation for a general election early next year and the world was passing through a near recession time triggered by a war imposed by Russia on Ukraine.
It is also important when Bangladesh’s human rights situation was being measured as perilous by global rights groups for the alleged extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in the past.
The US has earlier imposed sanction on a number of RAB officials for their activities, especially, that tainted their image, more than a year ago.
Lu observed that the sanction has made tremendous progress that RAB is able to carry out its function respecting human rights.
“This is amazing work. It shows the RAB is able to carry out important counterterrorism and law enforcement function while respecting human rights,” he said.
The US official referred to the Human Rights Watch’s recent statement that recognised success in reducing extra judiciary killing and said that the two sides had quite “good” discussion about the battalion.
“We had very honest and open discussions with the Bangladesh foreign minister and secretary. We have expressed our commitment to democracy and human rights,” Lu said about the official talks with Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abdul Momen.
The US would speak when it sees problems and offer suggestions, he said.
“We will stand up for freedom of speech, freedom of expression,” he added.
In a meeting with Salman F Rahman, Lu raised the issues of labour rights while Bangladesh side requested for its eligibility for the Generalised System of Preference, a trade benefit that US halted for many years despite the fact that Bangladesh as an LDC deserve it.
Bangladesh would be the first country to be eligible for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) if the US Congress authorises the trade scheme, Lu said.
“We are still waiting for our Congress to authorise GSP to any country. We are working very closely with the government. So, when it is authorised, the first country on the list will be Bangladesh,” he said.