- Dhaka expresses grave concern over sanction on RAB
- US wants Bangladesh by its side amid the Russia-Ukraine war
- Dhaka and Washington discuss bi-lateral trade and investment
- The dialogue also covers US proposals on military agreements
Rescinding the sanction on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) is difficult and the ban by the United States is not going away right now, according to US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.
After emerging from the eighth US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue at the state guesthouse Padma on Sunday, the visiting US under secretary told journalists that Washington wants more talks on it.
Nuland said Dhaka has provided her with RAB's reports on human rights over the past three months, and the US considers the battalion's progress on deterring extra-judicial killings to be satisfactory.
Besides, Nuland said the United States wants to work with Bangladesh to address threats to democracy and international laws against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war.
During the dialogue, policymakers of the two countries also discussed issues related to reinstating the generalised system of preferences (GSP) for Bangladeshi items to the US market, top political visits of the two countries, boosting bilateral trade and investment, military agreements, labour rights, direct flights and blue economy.
The dialogue is considered to be very important after the US ban on RAB in December last year. At the same time, the United States is emphasising the talk in an effort to expand its influence amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
Journalists were told at the briefing that the two sides also discussed the latest US proposals on two military agreements with Bangladesh – General Security of Military Information Agreement and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said Bangladesh has expressed deep concerns over the ban on RAB during the dialogue.
"We have also clarified our position on issues such as democratic practices, freedom of the media, labour rights and religious harmony. We also discussed ways to increase trade and investment and possible cooperation in the blue economy," he said.
"We have exchanged views on the Indo-Pacific strategy and shared our perspectives on national, regional and global security and the geopolitical situation," added the foreign secretary.
Momen said both sides have expressed their willingness to cooperate in UN peacekeeping operations and to continue bilateral cooperation in the areas of security and defence.
The dialogue covered all aspects of Bangladesh-US ties. The United States has emphasised human rights and security issues.
Under Secretary Nuland said the issue of RAB was a difficult and complex one during the meeting.
"You know we have concerns about RAB activities, extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances. However, we have seen an improvement in the situation over the past three months," she said.
Asked how Dhaka and Washington would strengthen the ties amid the sanctions against RAB, she told reporters that the United States would never remain silent on human rights abuses and violations of fundamental laws.
On 10 December last year, the US State Department imposed sanctions on RAB and seven of its former and current officials over human rights violations. Due to the sanctions, the officials will not get a US visa, and may even have their assets in the US confiscated.
After that, the then US ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller was summoned by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen to convey Dhaka's discontent over the designated sanctions.