IPS: US Deputy Secretary Biegun due Wednesday

US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun arrives here on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Bangladesh-US cooperation on Covid-19 response, recovery efforts and sustainable economic development.


He will be here from New Delhi, India after wrapping up his three-day visit there.


Biegun will meet Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday morning to discuss issues of mutual interest including those related to Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), a senior official told UNB.


The US Deputy Secretary will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gonobhaban on Thursday at 12pm, the official said.


State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam will host a dinner in honor of the visiting US Deputy Secretary of State on Wednesday at a city hotel.


The Deputy Secretary’s engagements in Bangladesh will focus on “advancing the common vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region” with shared prosperity for all, according to the Office of the Spokesperson at the US Department of State.


The Deputy Secretary Biegun met Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday.


“Pleased to meet US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun. Useful exchange of views on world politics and regional issues. Appreciated the steady progress of our bilateral cooperation. Confident that our Strategic Partnership would continue to deepen,” the Indian Minister tweeted after the meeting.


Deputy Secretary Biegun’s engagements in India focused on advancing the United States-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and how the United States and India can work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.


Bangladesh’s Priority


Bangladesh will raise the Rohingya issue during a US high official’s Dhaka visit and seek stronger global support, especially from the United States, for the quick repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.


“It’s a global responsibility. Rohingyas must go back to Myanmar, ” said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.


He said Rohingya is not the lone responsibility of Bangladesh but a global responsibility and Bangladesh will raise it.


Dr Momen said Bangladesh is not interested in humanitarian assistance. “It’s one part but not the main part. Rohingyas must go back to Myanmar. That’s the main part for us.”


Repatriation attempts were failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ “lack of trust” on the Myanmar government.


Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.


On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.


IPS & Bangladesh


On Monday, Dr Momen said the US side will talk about Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) and Bangladesh does not have any problem.


Bangladesh will also seek investment in infrastructure development and visa issues during the visit, he said.


Bangladeshi students are not getting the US visa whereas those from other countries are being given. “This is discriminatory,” Dr Momen said.


“We’ll tell them that they should come forward with investment in infrastructure development if they want the effectiveness of the initiative,” said the Foreign Minister adding that only talks will not work.


If they really want to help Bangladesh, Dr Momen said, they can help Bangladesh RMG sector by withdrawing tariffs for three years.


On defence aspects of the IPS, the Foreign Minister said they want to sell equipment but Bangladesh will be very reluctant about that end as Bangladesh is a friendly country.


Deputy Secretary Biegun’s will leave Bangladesh on October 16.


Source: United News of Bangladesh