White House, State Department positive in lifting sanctions on RAB: Salman

UNB || Shining BD

Published: 5/15/2024 4:27:41 AM

PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman has said the White House and the US Department of State are in favour of lifting sanctions on the RAB but it depends on the Department of Justice.

"The issue is with the US Department of Justice which is independent and separate from the White House and the State Department. They work independently," he told reporters on Tuesday night.

Quoting visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, Salman said they are from the US Department of State saying sanctions on RAB should be withdrawn as there is improvement.

The White House is also saying the same, he said, adding that they have a process to follow.

"The issue is moving through a process," Salman said after his discussion over dinner with Lu.

The US is sheltering Rashed Chowdhury, a convicted killer of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The issue of his handing over to Bangladesh also remains pending with the US Department of Justice, Salman said.

In January last year, Lu appreciated the “tremendous progress” made by RAB in “respecting human rights” while performing its duties.

“We had quite a good discussion about the RAB. If you have seen the statement this week by the Human Rights Watch, they recognised and we recognised tremendous progress in the area of reducing extra judicial killings by the RAB,” he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during his visit in January 2023.

“This is amazing work. It shows the RAB is able to carry out its important counterterrorism and law enforcement function while respecting human rights,” Lu added.

Talking to reporters at his residence on Tuesday night, Salman said the United States expressed willingness to expand the existing relations with Bangladesh on key fronts.

"We want to rebuild the trust," Salman quoted Donald Lu as saying during their discussion over dinner at his residence.

"That's the most important thing. We also reciprocated saying that we also want that," the adviser added.

The two sides did not raise the "kind of misunderstanding" that apparently happened before the national election.

He said the US side wanted to know about Bangladesh's plans to improve the foreign currency reserve situation and make payments to the US companies who are doing business with Bangladesh smoothly.

In reply, Salman told the US delegation that he is hopeful of increased remittance flow and export earnings with the measures taken recently. "So, our reserve position will get better."

"Not that we have stopped making payment but it's getting delayed in some cases. We are continuously making payments," Salman said.

He was briefing the reporters on Tuesday night after an informal discussion over dinner with the US delegation.

He hosted the dinner in honour of Lu and his delegation.

State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat said there was no discussion on BNP, opposition, democracy, human rights, politics and elections.

"It was an informal and casual discussion," he told reporters.

Responding to a question, Salman said there was no discussion on China as Bangladesh maintains friendship to all.

He said the US briefly talked about free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, in line with what they always say.

Responding to a question, he said the US is funding a hydropower project in Nepal.

Law Minister Anisul Huq, State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam, former State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Distinguished Fellow & Board Member of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute Farooq Sobhan and prominent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad joined the dinner from Bangladesh side.

Chief of Staff, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Nate Haft, Sarah Aldrich, SBM Political Unit Chief and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D. Haas, Arturo Hine (Political Counsellor) and Matthew Beh (Political Officer) at the US Embassy, Dhaka also attended.

Lu arrived here on Tuesday morning to "strengthen bilateral cooperation" and to demonstrate US support for a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

He is here to talk about deepening Bangladesh-US cooperation, including deepening the economic ties in ways that the two countries can collaborate further to address climate issues, said Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the US Department of State Vedant Patel.

Lu is here as part of his tri-nation tour of the region. He earlier visited India and Sri Lanka.

This is also his first visit to Bangladesh after Awami League won the January 7 elections to form the government for the third straight term.

Lu will have a bilateral meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and a courtesy meeting with Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday he will also meet Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury.

He was received at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by Khandker Masudul Alam, director general (North America) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas was also present.

Shining BD