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US Congress delegation to visit Dhaka next week

by tbhdesk

A delegation from the US Congress will be visiting Bangladesh next week, amid the ongoing diplomatic tension between two countries over the next national polls here.

The delegation, comprising representatives from both Democratic and Republican parties, is scheduled to visit the Rohingya camps as well as hold meetings with the political leaders in Bangladesh.

According to diplomatic sources, congressman Ed Keyes of Hawaii from the Democratic Party and congressman Richard McCormick of Georgia from the Republican Party will start their four-day Bangladesh trip on 12 August.

The office of congressman Richard McCormick of Georgia from the Republican Party has confirmed the visit to Prothom Alo through a text message.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior official of the foreign ministry confirmed the visit and said the US congressional delegation is mainly intended to see the overall situation of the Rohingya camps. Besides, they are scheduled to meet with foreign minister AK Abdul Momen.

In a conversation with Prothom Alo, the foreign minister said two congressmen from Democratic and Republican parties will be visiting here under an initiative of the US government.

As the US lends the highest amount of financial assistance to the Rohingyas on humanitarian ground, the two congressmen are coming here to assess the utilisation of their fund. At the same time, they will see the ground scenario and explore potential strategies to address the ongoing financial crisis, he added.

“I am supposed to meet the delegation,” he added.

Diplomatic sources said the two congressmen will engage in separate discussions with Awami League, BNP, and Jatiya Party, as well as civil society stakeholders.

Meanwhile, there have been differences of opinion on human rights and good governance between Bangladesh and the US over the past couple of years. The US imposed sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion as well as seven current and former members of this force on allegations of severe human rights violations. This creates discomfort between the two sides.

However, US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu expressed satisfaction over the decline in extra-judicial killings during his visit to Dhaka in January this year, but discomfort arose anew after the US announced a visa restriction policy for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh, in May this year.

Foreign policy analysts said the new visa policy announced in May is the reflection of the US taking a stern stance on a fair election in Bangladesh.

Along with Washington, US Congress members have also been vocal on the election in Bangladesh. In recent months, several members of US Congress separately wrote to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US permanent ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Overall, these Congress members called for protecting human rights, freedom of opions and freedom of media in addition to democracy and election. As a result, the issue of the next national election will get importance at the visiting US Congress team’s meetings with foreign minister and politicians.

Both countries want to foster a multidimensional relationship despite their difference of opinion on human rights and good governance.

In continuation of it, US state department coordinator on global anti-corruption Richard Nephew visited Dhaka last week. US Indo-Pacific Command strategic planning and policy director Brigadier General Thomas James will visit Dhaka in the second half of this August to join a defence dialogue.

Besides, US acting assistant trade representative for South and Central Asia Brendan Lynch will visit Dhaka at the beginning of September to join the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) meeting.

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