- India, Pakistan, Nepal have been invited
- Afghanistan, Sri Lanka have been excluded
- China, Turkey and Russia were missing from the list
Bangladesh is not among the 110 countries that are invited to the US President Joe Biden's virtual Summit for Democracy, according to a list disclosed by the White House.
Among the South Asian countries, India, Pakistan and Nepal are invited to the conference scheduled for 9-10 December. Afghanistan and Sri Lanka also could not make it to the list.
Even though it is not clear what criteria were followed to extend the invitation, international relations analysts in Bangladesh have come up with mixed reactions while the foreign ministry has not yet spoken on the matter.
Analysts said although democracy and human rights are said to be getting importance at the summit, there are questions about the democratic system of many of the invited countries. Even countries under authoritarian rules are also invited to the conference, they pointed out, adding that basically anti-China countries have been picked.
The list of 110 countries invited to the conference was published on the US State Department's website on Tuesday.
Unsurprisingly, America's main rivals China and Russia are not on the list. Turkey was also missing from the list.
But the United States did invite Taiwan, which it does not recognise as an independent country but holds up as a model democracy.
Among the countries of the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq will attend the online conference.
Traditional Arab allies of the US – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – are not invited, reports Firstpost.
Biden invited Brazil even though its far right president Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised as having an authoritarian bent and was a firm supporter of Donald Trump.
In Europe, Poland was invited to the summit despite the persistent tension with the European Union over its human rights record. Hungary, led by hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was not invited.
From Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the countries on the list.
Announcing the summit back in August, the White House said the meeting would "galvanise commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights".
Professor Delwar Hossain, an international relations analyst and former chairman of the Department of International Relations at Dhaka University, observed that the China factor might be the biggest consideration in not inviting Bangladesh since the United States has been working to corner China in the international arena.
According to him, China's relations with Bangladesh have been very good in recent times. China's relationship with Sri Lanka is also getting stronger day by day. Therefore, the US might have sent a message to China and these two countries by not inviting them, he feels.
Besides, there may be an anti-Bangladesh lobby in the Biden administration that may have tried to create an image crisis for Bangladesh by not inviting it to the conference, Prof Delwar told The Business Standard.
The analyst also pointed out that there are questions about the condition of democracy in many of the countries that have been invited to the conference entitled "Democracy Summit".
Former ambassador Huayun Kabir said Bangladesh had nothing to worry about not being invited to the summit. "But the global agenda and role of the United States must be given importance. Since we are a democratic country, we have to pay attention to the democratic system," he added.