US welcomes Indo-Bangla deals



The US deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia has welcomed the agreements signed between Bangladesh and India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka, reports

“We look very positively of all agreements signed between India and Bangladesh,” Eileen O’Connor said to a question at a media engagement with a select group of diplomatic correspondents in Dhaka on Monday.

This was the first comment from a US official after Modi ended his whirlwind two-day trip the day before.

Trade and connectivity dominated a series of deals signed between the nations, while the process was kick-started to settle 41-year-old land boundary issue.

The US keenly observed the visit since it has deep engagements both with India and Bangladesh as part of its foreign policy shift towards Asia.

“We share the enthusiasm with Bangladesh for greater cooperation in trade and commerce and greater exchanges of people and ideas,” the deputy assistant secretary said.

O’Connor  arrived in Dhaka on Sunday on a three-day visit ahead of a regional conference on counter-terrorism going to be held in Astana on June 29-30.

How government and civil society can work together for countering violent extremism is her focus during the visit.

She is here after a White House summit on violent extremism where Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali represented Bangladesh.

The US official appreciated Bangladesh’s position of zero tolerance for any form of violent extremism.

O’Connor will also speak at a roundtable on “sexual harassment, gender-based violence and the role of media” on Tuesday.

But journalists asked her about Modi’s visit since she was a deputy assistant secretary for this region.

She appreciated the connectivity deals and said, “We have been promoting a much more integrated region throughout South Asia and Central Asia because as you know, US has made a shift towards Asia.”

“And because we see an Asian country like Bangladesh which has 6 percent annual growth as a model for economic growth that the entire region can subscribe to.”

The deputy assistant secretary said for the US, the “greater connectivity” in any form was better for a country to develop.

It also helps a region to be stable with more prosperity, education and jobs, according to her.

Asked whether the US felt “threatened by the deepening relations between India and Bangladesh and whether Washington saw Bangladesh through the eyes of India, O’Connor said: “Absolutely not.”

“We do not see Bangladesh through the eyes of anyone, but through the eyes of US. And for us, the relation between India and Bangladesh is a positive one, and the relation is a positive development”.

She said the US and India had a “very vibrant” and “cooperative” relations on all fronts like “what we do with Bangladesh”.

The greater cooperation helped to foster “trust”, and more dialogue between the countries in the region meant “more stable and more economically prosperous” those countries were, the deputy assistant secretary explained.


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