No country should put objections to improvement of cooperation in the areas of defence between Bangladesh and the United States, said US assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs Randall G Schriver on Wednesday.
Both Bangladesh and the US wanted strong cooperation in the areas of defence out of mutual interests, he said at a press briefing, adding, ‘if anybody objects to that it would be a matter of concern.’
‘No one should object in improving our relationship,’ Schriver told a small group of journalists in Dhaka concluding his two-day official visit.
The US expected Bangladesh would have good relations with its neighbours and they had no issue with Bangladesh’s improving relations with other countries, he said.
Schriver said he discussed with the Bangladesh officials on the US’s intent for advanced defence relations driven by mutual interests with signing two proposed agreements – General Security of Military Information Agreement and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement – as ‘these are foundational and enabling agreements to drive to move this relationship.’
Signing these two agreements would help open opportunities for strengthening cooperation on sharing information and sensitive technology, he said.
Randall Schriver called on prime minister’s security affairs adviser Tarique Ahmed Siddique and international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi, and top military officials at the Bangladesh Army Headquarters and the Armed Forces Division, among others.
The Bangladesh side wanted mutual cooperation on using western and the US platforms in the areas of defence, he said, adding that both sides were engaged in supporting peacekeeping, counterterrorism, maritime security, and cyber security.
Schriver also discussed about Indo-Pacific Strategy, propagated by the US for free, fair and reciprocal trade and freedom of movement at sea. He observed there were lots of alignments in Bangladesh’s views and the US views.
The IPS was not a direct counter to the Belt and Road Initiative propagated by China, he claimed. ‘The IPS is an affirmative and inclusive strategy that seeks to preserve the rules-based international order for the security, prosperity, and stability of all countries in the region. China included.’
The government of Bangladesh should view the Indo-Pacific Strategy as an open opportunity to advance many of Bangladesh’s national and international objectives in the areas of economic, good governance and security, he said, adding, ‘the IPS is not about choosing any sides. We want Bangladesh to be able to make its own sovereign choices.’
As Bangladesh and the United States continue to cost-share and build enhanced defence and security capabilities, he said Bangladesh could be in a position to protect its interests, work toward its military modernisation goals, and deter those who would seek to do harm.
The US wanted durable solutions to the Rohingya crisis with Myanmar making conditions conducive for durable return to Rakhine state, he added.
Senior US embassy officials in Dhaka were also present at the briefing.
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