US, Bangladesh in talks on twin deals

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Oct 18,2019 | Updated: 00:16, Oct 18,2019


The United States authorities were in negotiations on signing Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, or ACSA, and General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, for facilitating transfer of advanced defence articles to Bangladesh, a US government official said on Thursday.

The US felt the need for signing these two agreements as the two countries were considering taking already established defence cooperation to an advanced level.

It appeared to the US authorities from the Bangladesh Forces Goal 2030 that the country ‘is going to modernise its military’ by procuring sophisticated  military hardware, including missile system and attack helicopters, the official said.

‘These two agreements are foundations for protecting information on defence cooperation as we are required by law that information with strategic elements are protected,’ they added.

Under military-to-military cooperation, the two countries were engaged in training, peacekeeping, joint exercises, cooperation on containing terrorism and extending humanitarian service for disaster victims, the official said.

Asked if signing of the two agreements with procuring advanced defence articles would be a contribution to the Indo-Pacific Strategy propagated by the US, India, Japan and Australia, an official said it would be a partial benefit for the IPS which was developed over three pillars — economic, governance and security.

ACSA is negotiated on a bilateral basis between the United States and a partner country to facilitate the defence forces of the parties in contract to exchange most common types of support, including food, fuel, transportation, ammunition and equipment, etcetera across the globe. Over 100 countries have signed ACSA, the US officials claimed.

GSOMIA is also negotiated on a bilateral basis. It is a reciprocal, legally-binding agreement that ensures governments understand and commit to protect classified military information at an equivalent level of security.

‘As the US-Bangladesh relationship continues to grow, GSOMIA is essential to enabling the cooperation we both seek…For Foreign Military Sales or GSOMIA, our security authorities would work closely with your security authorities to develop a security plan and standard operating procedures to implement required security measures,’ the official said.

The US officials also claimed 76 countries, including some Asian countries, signed GSOMIA, which the US considers as a foundational agreement for advanced defence cooperation.

When asked about the possibility of signing Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement and General Security of Military Information Agreement, a U.S. government official said, ‘We are still in discussion about these two agreements.’ 

On January 31, US ambassador in Dhaka Earl Miller disclosed after a meeting with foreign minister AK Abdul Momen that the US proposed Bangladesh to buy defence articles from the country. 

The ambassador offered the purchase of defence articles from the US, Momen said, adding that the price should be competitive.

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