US-Bangladesh security dialogue Wednesday, discussion over agreements

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News Desk

Security dialogue between Bangladesh and the US is set to take place in Dhaka on Wednesday, as part of the broader multi-level talks between the two nations. Primary focus of the meeting will revolve around Bangladesh’s potential contribution to the Indo-Pacific region.

Alongside this agenda, discussions may also include topics related to the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Acquisition Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA).

Confirming the details on Monday, diplomatic sources provided the first official acknowledgment of the impending security dialogue between the two countries. At the upcoming 10th security dialogue between the two countries, Brigadier General Husain Muhammad Masihur Rahman, Director General of the Operations and Planning Division of the Armed Forces Department (AFD), will lead the Bangladesh delegation.

Brigadier General Thomas J James, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy Affairs at the Indo-Pacific Command of the United States, will lead the US delegation.

According to diplomatic sources, the upcoming security dialogue between Bangladesh and the United States will cover a range of topics, including the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), and the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) as integral parts of the security agreement.

Discussions are expected to encompass regional and global security matters, collaborative efforts between the military forces of both nations, defense equipment, disaster management strategies, peacekeeping and establishment, training initiatives, military officer exchange visits, and measures to counteract militancy.

One of the United States’ key priorities is to establish a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region, aiming to curtail China’s influence. This objective underscores their determination to maintain a robust presence and influence within the region, regardless of the associated challenges. Democracy and human rights also hold significant importance within the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) as they endeavor to uphold these values while pursuing their regional goals.

According to a diplomatic source, the US side may discuss how Bangladesh can contribute to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region. Bangladesh’s position on the Indo-Pacific region will also be discussed in the meeting. Discussions on IPS will emphasize democracy and human rights from Washington side as it is currently the global priority of the United States.

Starting in 2012, the ninth meeting of the Dhaka-Washington Bilateral security dialogue was held in the United States in mid-May last year.

This meeting will address the subject of arms procurement from the United States. Bangladesh is aiming to modernise its military capabilities to achieve the objectives outlined in the Forces Goal 2030 initiative. The government is actively pursuing a strategy to diversify its sources for arms procurement, moving away from relying solely on a single country. In line with this strategy, Bangladesh is seeking to acquire advanced weaponry not only from the United States but also from other potential suppliers.

In 2018, Bangladesh submitted a proposal to the United States for the acquisition of advanced military equipment. However, the United States typically requires a defence contract before selling advanced military hardware. Consequently, Washington communicated to Dhaka sign GSOMIA agreement if Bangladesh intended to procure advanced military technology.

Bangladesh agrees on principle to enter into a security agreement with the United States. The two countries are presently collaborating on drafting the proposed agreement.

Bangladesh is considering three things while procuring arms. The first is price. Bangladesh will make purchase within its existing capacity. Second is the quality of weapons. Bangladesh will emphasise more on this.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will play a role in procuring good quality weapons at affordable prices. And lastly is the strategic consideration. Bangladesh will procure weapons considering the strategic aspects in the geopolitical context.

Bangladesh has taken a decision on principle regarding GSOMIA between the two security agreements with the United States. However, there appears to be a more cautious approach being taken by Dhaka in relation to actually finalising the agreement.

In a recent statement to journalists, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen indicated that the prospect of a security agreement with the US before the elections is unlikely.

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