Partnership Dialogue: US calls sanctions on Rab a complicated issue

Bangladesh on Sunday pressed for withdrawal of US sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion and seven of its current and former officers, but Washington was still non-committal in its response describing it a “complicated and difficult” issue.

Bangladesh voiced its concern over the US Treasury Department’s move at the 8th “Partnership Dialogue” with the United States in Dhaka, first such bilateral meeting after the sanctions were imposed on the country’s elite force last December.

US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who led the US side, told a joint press briefing that sanctions are a complicated and difficult issue, though some progress were made over the last three months.

“I think this has obviously been a complicated and difficult issue. Here, we did discuss it today. We’ve seen progress in the last three months…,” she said.

With Nuland by his side at the briefing at State guesthouse Padma Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said they have raised “deep concern” about the recent US treasury sanctions imposed on Rab and related individuals.

He said that Bangladesh side explained how this might affect the efforts of the government to combat terrorism and transnational crimes.

Dhaka told Washington that the government has been addressing the challenges.

“We’ve given them a non-paper dossier on the latest on Rab and its performance, also some of our initiatives. They’ll take it back and look at it,” said the foreign secretary.

He said they will continue their discussion in several formats and this issue will hopefully be resolved in due course.

Masud said Dhaka also explained its position on issues like democratic practices, media freedom, labor rights and religious harmony.

“We also had in-depth discussion on ways and means of enhancing trade and investment, and possible cooperation in the Blue Economy,” he said.

At the dialogue the two countries intended to have “closer understanding” and broader relations removing gaps.

Earlier, Masud and Nuland had tete-a-tete at the same venue before joining the dialogue.

The entire gamut of relations between the two countries -security cooperation, trade, labour rights, investment opportunities, human rights, governance, global threats including climate change, regional issues including a free and open Indo-Pacific region were discussed.

Source: United News of Bangladesh