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US wants to rebuild trust between Dhaka and Washington: Lu

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu on Wednesday described his Bangladesh visit as an effort to ‘rebuild the trust’ between the people of the two countries.

“Last year, there were a lot of tension between US and Bangladesh,” he told reporters in a brief statement, noting that they want to look forward, reports UNB.

Lu had a courtesy meeting with Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud at his office and discussed ways to deepen the “forward-looking” bilateral relationship between two countries.

The United States said they stand with Bangladesh in building a “prosperous, secure, and democratic” future.

“Our discussion with the Foreign Minister today reaffirmed our shared commitment to cultivating economic growth, bolstering the workforce, improving security cooperation, addressing the climate crisis and reinforcing our values of respecting democracy and human rights,” said the US side.

Talking to reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lu said they want to find ways to strengthen the relationship.

“So I spoke about working the hard issues. We have lots of hard issues — RAB sanction, labour reforms, we have human rights, business climate reforms,” Lu said.

In order to work on hard issues, Donald Lu said, they want to build up the cooperation on positive issues.

“We are talking about new investments, more Bangladeshi students who want to study in the US and how to work on clean energy,” he said.

The US also wants to support Bangladesh in fighting corruption, hold the officials accountable, ensure transparency and help widen tax net.

Lu said the US worked very hard to promote free, fair and non-violent elections which caused tension. “It is common in our relationship.”

In a separate briefing, Foreign Minister Hasan said Lu came to Bangladesh to improve the relations.

On GSP issue, the foreign minister said the US wants to help Bangladesh get it back when they reintroduce the programme.

He said the US also wants to help Bangladesh strengthen its reserve.

They also talked about modernisation of the taxation system, Rohingya repatriation issue and genocide in Palestine.

“He told me that they also want to see peace in Gaza. They are hopeful and agreed that peace needs to be established there,” Hasan said.

The Foreign Minister regretted the continued loss of innocent lives in Gaza and emphasized the urgency of reaching a ceasefire.

Lu highlighted the ongoing US efforts in this regard and hoped for a positive outcome soon.

Assistant Secretary Lu reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to further the partnership with Bangladesh and take forward the new chapter of relationship.

They discussed a wide range of topics of shared interest, including economic cooperation, trade, investment, education, environment and climate change, security, Rohingya humanitarian response, women empowerment, labour reform, and aviation.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas, among others, were present.