US-Bangla partnership dialogue begins Thursday

US-Bangla partnership dialogue begins Thursday

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A two-day fourth annual Bangladesh-US partnership dialogue begins here on Thursday to advance the ‘robust’ and ‘growing’ bilateral relationship and give it a strategic direction.
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque will lead the home side, while Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman the large US delegation to the dialogue that will start around 10am at the state guesthouse Meghna, said a senior official.He said Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit (MAU) at the Foreign Ministry Rear Admiral (retd) M Khurshed Alam, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal, Director General (Americas) Muhammad Mahfuzur Rahman senior officials from the ministries concerned will also attend it.
Wendy Sherman and Nisha Desai Biswal arrive here on Thursday, said a media note issued by the US Embassy in Dhaka.
The Partnership Dialogue is the premier forum for further expanding and deepening bilateral cooperation on the full range of bilateral and regional activities, including development and governance, trade and investment, and security cooperation, it said.
During their stay here, Sherman and Biswal will also meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, other political leaders, senior government officials and civil society leaders.
The current political situation and just-held city corporation elections might also come up for discussion at the dialogue.
“The two sides will discuss the full range of our bilateral activities, including development and governance, trade and investment, and security cooperation,” US Embassy Spokesperson Monica L Shie told UNB on Monday.
Earlier on April 23, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat said the US is looking forward to have the next round of Partnership Dialogue with Bangladesh will review the areas of cooperation and issues of both countries’ interest.
The diplomat said it is a regular dialogue between the two ‘partnering nations’ to review the list of all areas for cooperation and issues of mutual interest.
Apart from reviewing the progress and identifying areas for cooperation on bilateral, regional and international priorities, it is also expected to focus on the expansion of security, trade and development ties between the two countries apart from reviewing the labour conditions in Bangladesh, said a diplomatic source adding that climate and health issues will also be discussed.
The issue of restoring GSP — Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) — might also come for discussions.
In January this year, a USTR-led interagency review concluded that while Bangladesh has made progress over the last year to address fire and building safety issues in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, further progress is needed, including to address serious worker rights issues, before reinstatement of Bangladesh’s trade benefits under GSP can be considered.
President Obama suspended Bangladesh from GSP in June 2013 based on Bangladesh’s failure to meet statutory eligibility requirements related to worker rights.
There will be a joint press conference on Friday morning at the same venue on the outcome of the dialogue soon after the event with a joint declaration.
The third annual Partnership Dialogue was held on October 28-29, 2014 in Washington, DC.
The two countries highlighted the growing bilateral ties between Bangladesh and the United States and affirmed that the relationship is based on shared values and common goals of the two countries and their peoples.
They also recognised that the Partnership Dialogue, established in 2012, presents an opportunity for the two moderate and pluralistic nations to engage in fruitful discussions towards a broader and deeper relationship. – UNB

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