US-Bangladesh Ties: Significance Of Blinken-Momen Meeting – OpEd


The Washington meeting between Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was useful for three reasons: one, this was the 3rd consecutive meeting with the American Secretary of State. Second, this provided another opportunity to go over the ongoing activities to clear up misgivings if any and third and most important is to explore areas of cooperation impinging on geo-political and strategic importance.

We should also take into account that the bilateral meeting took place earlier a week or so of the goodwill message from US President Joe Biden’s letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reaffirming the importance of growing Dhaka-Washington partnership for next 50 years and beyond, owing to proud partnership on development, economic growth and counterterrorism stronger than ever before. The question of defence cooperation is also on the anvil. President Biden’s recognition of Joy Bangla as our national call for fulfilment and progress is deeply appreciated. It is like De Gaulle’s clarion call during second World War – Vive la France’ the call that energized the allied forces to fight against the Nazis.

In the meeting Bangladesh underscored its determination to strengthen relations on trade and investment, reiterated its call for the return of the killer of Father of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and withdrawal of sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and discussed issues of mutual interests. Issues relating to security, cooperation, religious freedom, democracy, equality and respect for human rights were all discussed in a friendly manner.

Additionally, emphasized their joint efforts to deal with the climate crisis, meet the needs of Rohingyas, facilitate their safe return to Myanmar, and promote regional security through UN peacekeeping operations. The total gamut of conversation was held in a genial manner, as between two friends: that’s the success story of Sheikh Hasina’s Government which believes in the people’s power, will of the people.

Likewise, on April 4th of last year, Blinken and Momen met to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-US relations. In that meeting they deliberated on the “tremendous economic potential” of the relationship and contemplated on the ways the two countries collaborated over the last half century – including in growing people-to-people ties with vibrant Fulbright exchanges.

These series meetings and cooperations I consider to be a positive vibe from the USG to promote US-Bangladesh relations to a new level. Previously, what Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu has said in meetings with various Bangladesh officials, reflect a great deal of what Michael Kugelman, Director of South Asia Institute of the Wilson Centre in Washington DC, has observed in the Foreign Affairs Journal on Bangladesh. The Awami League retains a “significant level of support” and there is a lot for the government in Bangladesh to point to a success story amid current challenges. Kugelman also said, Bangladesh has been a regional success story for its economic growth. “It is a global success story.” Next national election will be held “as per the Constitution”.  Donald Lu said, “A tremendous progress has been made and I am here to strengthen the friendship with Bangladesh when the world is struggling to establish peace and justice.”

The United States and Bangladesh share a common historical experience, having both endured arduous battles for independence, united by a fervent commitment to democracy. Both nations have come to understand that democracy is a continuous process, not a static outcome. They share a desire for a robust, secure, and prosperous democracy, a responsible judiciary, and fundamental human rights for all. Misgivings arise between two democracies; these are temporary.

Under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we have made great headway, but still we have ‘miles to go’. We don’t see the darkness; we are working, moving to become 31st economic power in the world in not too distant a future. Already our GDP is above that of Malaysia, the Philippines, Finland and Norway. Bangladesh is growing. One should not forget that the US is the largest investor in Bangladesh. With mutual understanding, two countries can work together and promote peace, not only in South Asia, but also in Indo-Pacific and the world at large.

Jubeda Chowdhury

Jubeda Chowdhury is a freelance writer with a Master's Degree in International Relations from the University of Dhaka.

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