The United States continues to persuade Bangladesh authorities to engage in proposed Indo-Pacific Strategy, in which India is a major partner, as a part of its efforts to contain China’s influence over the region.
US president’s political aide on South Asia Lisa Curtis raised the matter in meetings with Bangladesh officials during her visit in Dhaka in the first week of March, officials said.
She suggested that Bangladesh should go through a document released simultaneously from New Delhi and Washington on Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States, as the Bangladesh side sought details about the proposed strategy, the officials said.
Lisa Curtis told New Age after a meeting with Bangladesh foreign secretary in Dhaka on March 3 that she discussed with the Bangladesh side about how Bangladesh ‘fits in the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy.’
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque said that the United States raised the issue and they sought a detailed outline of the strategy.
Several Bangladesh officials present in the meeting said that Lisa Curtis asked them to see the points mentioned outlining the strategy in the joint statement made by the United States and India on June 27, 2017 on Modi’s visit to Washington.
Bangladesh officials, however, told Lisa Curtis that the United States should directly send Bangladesh a diplomatic note outlining the proposed strategy.
Trump and Modi, according to the India-US joint statement, agreed that a close partnership between the United States and India ‘is central to peace and stability’ in the Indo-Pacific region.
They committed to a set of common principles for the region, reiterating the ‘importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight and commerce’ throughout the region.
They called upon ‘all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law.’
They stressed the need for the ‘use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment.’
Trump and Modi also called on other nations in the region to adhere to these principles.
The United States recognised India as a major defence partner, the statement said.
Mentioning the points on ‘freedom of navigation, overflight and commerce’, ‘territorial and maritime disputes’ and the ‘use of responsible debt financing practices’ in the Indo-Pacific region, several diplomats said the idea was floated to contain Chinese dominance in the region.
Japan and Australia are also allies in the proposed Indo-Pacific Strategy, diplomats said, with hints that Australia was sceptical about the idea of containing China.
Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono too gave emphasis on Bangladesh’s joining in the strategy in his meeting with foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali in Dhaka in November 2017, said the officials.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs