US-Bangladesh ‘security co-operation’ & China

Polash Datta

Polash Datta

Well, Bangladesh-US ‘security relation’ finally comes out of the curtain. On Saturday the visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bangladesh foreign minister declared that the two countries will sit together annually to review their ‘security cooperation’. The Secretary reached Dhaka in the evening and instead of wasting any time in resting, she sat with the foreign minister at Prime Minister’s office. The annual co-operation plan was declared in the joint press statement issued by the end of the meet.

Concerned corners opine that this ‘co-operation declaration’ is not a bolt from blue. On 19th of the last month both the country had hold the first ever security dialogue in Dhaka. US Assistant Secretary for Political and Military Affairs Andrew J Shapiro attended the security dialogue on April 19 with Bangladesh. And the Foreign Minister Dipu Moni had clearly stated that  Bangladesh had big cooperation with the US to fight terrorism and militancy.

Bangladesh’e first internet newspaper quotes from the joint statement, “We affirm our dedication to deepening dialogue in security cooperation, including in combating terrorism, violent extremism, and transnational crime, such as narcotics trafficking, piracy, and trafficking in persons and arms.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni sign a joint declaration on Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue at the Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina >> Image ::

The declaration was signed by Hillary Clinton and Dipu Moni in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office. The two countries believe that “a strong partnership between Bangladesh and the United States, working together to further mutual peace, security and development, is in the interests of the people of Bangladesh, the United States and the world.”

Though US was against the liberation war of Bangladesh its interest is seemingly growing to the country that was termed as ‘bottomless basket’ in the 70’s by the then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. US navy failure in the Afghanistan to contain the Taliban and the political instability in Pakistan- a close ally to the the country in the South Asia- might have accelerated US attention to Bangladesh. A recent report by the Congressional Research Service of the US also demonstrates the geopolitical importance of Bangladesh in the South Asia, “Bangladesh is also of interest to the United States for the role it plays in the larger geopolitical dynamics of South Asia.”

The report says that independence of Bangladesh “forever weakened Pakistan’s position relative to India. This has enabled India to operate as a key actor not only in South Asia, but in Asia as a whole.” And the report, prepared for members and committees of congress, ends with a caution: “Some Bangladeshi strategic thinkers believe that China should now be pursued as a strategic counterweight to Bangladesh’s relationship with India.”

“Ongoing engagement by China with South Asian states, particularly in the area of developing port access, has led to suspicion of China’s motives among some in strategic circles in India and the United States,” comments the congressional research report. And it continues, “From this perspective, port development in Bangladesh could be seen as part of a ‘String of Pearls’ strategy that could be used by China to secure sea lanes that cross the Indian Ocean and link its industrialized eastern seaboard with the energy resources of the Middle East.”

Yes, after two years of the the report both the countries have declared to review ‘security co-operation’ and etc.

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