US assistant secretary flies in today

US Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu will arrive in Bangladesh today on a two-day visit.

Lu will meet senior government officials and civil society groups during the visit.

He has plans to discuss bilateral issues including trade, economy, human and labour rights, and Indo-Pacific strategy.

Assistant Secretary Lu served as the US ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic and Albania. He also worked on the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Lu’s visit comes less than a week after the visit of Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher, senior director for South Asia at the US National Security Council. More US officials are likely to visit Dhaka later this month and the next.

“Besides election and human rights, we will talk about all other issues…,” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen told reporters on Wednesday. 

Bangladesh has a number of issues to discuss with Lu, while the US too has some expectations, he said, adding, “We hope to frankly discuss those.”

The US is Bangladesh’s single largest destination for readymade garments. It is also the largest donor for humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya refugees.

The US also wants to boost defence and maritime cooperation with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh wants the US to withdraw the sanctions on Rab, reinstate the GSP facility for apparel import and make more investments in infrastructure, renewable energy, and help mitigate climate change fallouts.

“The big powers want to have deeper engagement with us. If we can remain engaged, it is good for us,” Secretary Momen said.

Asked if Bangladesh is joining the US-led IPS, he said the US, Canada, the EU and Japan have their strategy on the Indo-Pacific.

“We will also have our own strategy on how we want to see our Bay of Bengal and beyond.”