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BD-US maritime security co-op not for checking piracy alone

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July 2, 2014

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BD-US maritime security co-op not for checking piracy alone

Bangladesh and the United States maritime and border security cooperation is meant for regional security and not for checking piracy alone, a Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman said on 22 April 2014. “There is no piracy in the coastline of the Bay of Bengal, US wants to provide us security on the coastline as there is huge open sea and Bangladesh does not have capabilities to protect the area,” Secretary (Bilateral) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mustafa Kamal said at a joint press conference.

The US-Bangladesh security dialogue started in Dhaka on the day at the auditorium of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Kelly of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is leading the 26-member US delegation which includes Deputy assistant secretary for South Asia Atul Kashyap. Bangladesh side was led by Secretary (Bilateral) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mustafa Kamal. US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena was also present at the press meet. The dialogue mainly includes bilateral security issues including maritime security, counter-terrorism, disaster risk management, peacekeeping, law enforcement, non-proliferation, joint military exercises and exchanges. The first security dialogue was held in Dhaka on April 19, 2012 while the second in Washington in April, 2013. When asked as to why there has been dialogue on a number of occasions about maritime security with the US as there is no piracy in the coastline of the Bay Bengal, Mustafa Kamal said Bangladesh needs US security cooperation as the country’s coastal area gets bigger after winning the maritime dispute with Myanmar. Since the first US-Bangladesh dialogue on security issues in 2012, the key point of discussion was cooperation with coast guard and navy to develop their capacity to defend Bangladesh’s maritime boundary and protect the country’s economic assets through fending off pirates, stealing of fish, and trafficking of drugs and illegal arms. On May 23, 2013 US handed over Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis to Bangladesh Navy under the bilater cooperation.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Kelly said the United States recognizes that Bangladesh is located in a vital region, which requires it to play an important role in maintaining security in the Bay of Bengal. He said the US continues to implement President Obama’s objective to intensify US role in the Asia-Pacific and play a larger and long-term role in shaping the region and its future.

“The United States promotes American interests by helping to ensure nations respect international law and norms, including freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce, encouraging confidence building and integration among neighboring nations, and that all countries resolve disagreements peacefully without threats or coercion.  Our relationship with Bangladesh fits into this broader strategy and commitment to the rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific,” he said. “We respect Bangladesh’s sovereign rights in this respect… we support and welcome engagement with Bangladesh and other countries of South Asia as the United States and Bangladesh face numerous shared challenges in the region, which we can tackle together,” he said. Kelly said, “Our security relationship with Bangladesh focuses on four pillars: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peace through (peacekeeping operations and defence cooperation), counterterrorism and security (through both maritime and border)”.

“A strong bilateral partnership and improved defence ties between Bangladesh and the United States are in both of our interests, and will contribute to our common desire for stability, peace, and prosperity in the region,” he added.

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