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Donald Lu’s Visit: Scope and thrust likely to differ from previous visit

Considering Bangladesh’s overall stability and economic prosperity, big partners are showing greater interest to engage with the stable new government, Bangladesh says.

“All have been attracted by our stability, economic prosperity and other socioeconomic development. They are showing greater interest,” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said ahead of US official Donald Lu’s visit to Bangladesh, reports UNB.

The foreign secretary said they are (big countries) certainly comparing with each other. “I won’t say it’s a competition but I would say they all have much interest.”

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu will travel to Bangladesh on May 14 as part of his tri-nation tour of the region.

He will visit India and Sri Lanka before coming to Dhaka.

His trip will strengthen bilateral cooperation with each country and demonstrate U.S. support for a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, said the US Department State.

Lu will meet with government officials, civil society leaders, and other Bangladeshis to discuss U.S.-Bangladesh cooperation, including on addressing the climate crisis and deepening economic ties, said spokesperson at the US Department of State.

The scope and thrust of his visit is likely to differ greatly from previous ones – before the elections in Bangladesh.

“The pre-election scenario and the current scenario are totally different. A new government has been formed. A stable government is carrying forward its activities engaging with various countries. All countries think of engaging with Bangladesh,” Masud Momen said.

He said all elements of the mutual relations – political, economic and even security issues will be discussed.

“We have many mechanisms, platforms and dialogues with them (US). It will be look into how all these can be reactivated and what are the mechanisms we can take forward,” said the Foreign Secretary.

He said there is no reason to think that only Rohingya issue will be discussed.

Asked about the pre-election discomfort, the foreign secretary said Bangladesh did never feel discomfort. They might have felt that.

“From our side, there was no discomfort before the elections, and still we do not have any discomfort,” he said.

A diplomatic source last week indicated that Lu might be in Dhaka on May 14 on a two-day visit, which is seen as an opportunity to discuss ways for future cooperation.

The US assistant secretary is likely to discuss bilateral issues with Momen apart from his courtesy meeting with Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud and PM’s adviser Salman F Rahman, the source told UNB.

After the January 7 national election, the US in a statement on January 8 said, “Looking ahead, the United States remains committed to partnering with Bangladesh to advance our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, to supporting human rights and civil society in Bangladesh, and to deepening our people-to-people and economic ties.”

In February this year, Eileen Laubacher, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for South Asia, US National Security Council (NSC); Michael Schiffer, USAID Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia; and Afreen Akhter, US Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, paid a three-day visit to Bangladesh.

“There is willingness from both sides. Together, we want to create a new chapter in our relations,” Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud told reporters after his meeting with the US delegation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at that time.

“It’s a pleasure for us to talk about our shared priorities and ways for us to cooperating together in the future,” Eileen Laubacher told reporters in her very brief remarks.

Earlier, FM Hasan Mahmud said the relations with the US remain “excellent,” and the two countries are working closely to further improve the ties.

“In the future, we will continue to work closely, and the relations will be deepened,” he added.