US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas thinks that many people are "over-exaggerating" the impact of the sanctions imposed on the elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and some officials but acknowledges that it did have an impact on the overall relations.
"Yes, the sanctions did have an impact. I think many people are over-exaggerating the impact because the relationship we have is so broad and we deal with so many issues," he told Voice of America Bangla Service in an interview at the US Department of State.
The US envoy said the sanctions are one issue but they continue to work very closely on the security front.
Ambassador Haas said the US stopped providing training to the RAB in 2018 because of concerns as they want to see accountability for the past human rights violations and to reform the force so that it does not repeat the same.
On 10 December, 2021, Human Rights Day, the US imposed sanctions on RAB and some of its serving as well as former officials, based on what the US said was "credible evidence" of serious human rights abuses.
The US envoy said over the past few months the two countries had partnership dialogue, security dialogue, military partnership and high-level economic dialogue. "We are cooperating deeply and aggressively on those fronts."
The US ambassador reiterated the importance of free media and the challenges in Bangladesh.
He said the government-to-government relationship is important but businesses, education and family ties are far more important.
This year, 2022, Bangladesh and the US are celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken kicked off a busy program of engagements for the year ahead by marking the milestone during their meeting on 4 April in Washington, DC.