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Joint Press Conference of the U.S.-Bangladesh Dialogue on Security Issues


Press Conference
Tom Kelly
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena; Secretary Bilateral, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustafa Kamal
Dhaka, Bangladesh
April 22, 2014

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Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: Delegates of the Third Bangladesh and United States Security Dialogue, both from United States and Bangladesh. Dear journalists, ladies and gentlemen, we have just successfully concluded the third session of Bangladesh-United States Dialogue on Security Issues.

The U.S. side was led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. There was a large delegation from the United States, 26 member delegation, and the delegation includes Deputy Assistant Secretary Mr. Atul Keshap from Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs; Brigadier General Joaquin Malavet; and then individuals from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; International Security Program; Bureau of International Security and Non-Proliferation; South Asia and Oceania Policy Division; Department of Homeland Security; Defense Security Cooperation Agency; and the Department of Justice and also from the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh delegation was led by Secretary Bilateral of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Mustafa Kamal. Bangladesh also has a large delegation of 35 members from different ministries and agencies including Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Home Affairs that includes a representative of Department of Narcotics Control, Bangladesh Coast Guard, Bangladesh Border Guard; and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief; Ministry of Defense; Ministry of Science and Technology including representative from the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission; Armed Forces Division; and the Prime Minister’s Office.

There were four sessions over the two-day dialogue. Strategic priorities and regional issues where we talked about our bilateral relationship and also our relationship with the region. Then there was the second session on military and security assistance. That was military and security assistance between our two countries. The third session was on global security and non-proliferation cooperation where we talked about some of the global issues. Finally, the last session was entirely on global issues that covered peacekeeping, peace support initiatives, and counter-terrorism and law enforcement, risk management, and science and technology for emergency response.

With these words I would like to request the leader of the Bangladesh delegation who actually led Bangladesh delegation in all these three dialogues and probably he is the only one among us who attended all the dialogues, all the three dialogues on security issues between Bangladesh and United States, Ambassador Mustafa Kamal. I would like to request him to deliver his opening remarks.

Mostafa Kamal, Secretary (bilateral) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh: Dear friends from the press and media. Good evening.

Today we had a very fruitful dialogue covering a wide range of security and strategic issues of mutual interest. We have basically dwelt on areas of cooperation where more concrete bilateral institutional mechanisms were discussed, and also future areas of cooperation were identified.

This happens to be the third Bangladesh-U.S. Security Dialogue. The process was started when the first security dialogue took place on 19 April 2012 which took place in Dhaka at this very place. The second Security Dialogue that took place was in 2013 in the State Department in Washington, DC.

We are very happy to welcome Thomas Kelly, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the U.S. Department of State, and the distinguished members of his delegation who have come from varied organizations, departments, which cover generally the aspects that we have discussed today.

We appreciate the U.S. government’s initiative for institutionalizing this annual dialogue between our two countries, particularly the one on security issues to which both our countries attach high importance.

The dialogue process between Bangladesh and the United States has three levels. One is the Defense to Defense, Military to Military Dialogue. Then is the Security Dialogue which is this one. The other one is the Partnership Dialogue.

So in this third meeting we have discussed a number of items in four sessions as already spelled out by Director General Americas. We have discussed strategic priorities and regional issues in which we have also discussed our relations with our immediate neighbors -- India and with Myanmar, also Afghanistan, what are we doing there, Indian Ocean region, Bay of Bengal.

In session two we have discussed military and security assistance issues, mostly between the defense organizations of the two countries.

Thereafter in session three we had discussed the global security, non-proliferation cooperation, in which some important aspects were also discussed. We also discussed UNHCR 1540 Proliferation Security Initiative. These are areas of cooperation for non-proliferation. We discussed nuclear safety cooperation between our two countries.

Then in session four, which was the largest session, we had discussed global issues, which included Bangladesh’s plan for future contributions in peacekeeping operations and global peace building operations in counter-terrorism and law enforcement, disaster risk management, regional humanitarian assistance, disaster risk reduction efforts, and also national disaster management research and training institute. Besides, we also discussed science and technology for emergency response.

Basically these were the broad areas which we covered in our discussions. In all these discussions, aim was purely to assist, it was mainly mutual assistance between the two countries and also in assisting Bangladesh, its contractors and efforts and other security issues. So these were generally the things that we had discussed and certainly today’s dialogue was very useful and I think it will go a long way in building Bangladesh-U.S. relations and taking it to a much loftier heights. So this is what happened today.

This much I want to say now. I would like to now give the floor to the leader of the U.S. delegation, Thomas Kelly, who would like to make his opening remarks. Thereafter, we’ll seek your questions.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly: Thank you very much, and good evening.

It’s a great pleasure for me to be here in Dhaka to participate in the 3rd Annual U.S.-Bangladesh Dialogue on Security Issues. On behalf of the entire U.S. delegation, I’d first like to thank Secretary Kamal and our Bangladeshi counterparts for the productive and active discussions that we had today. The Bangladeshis have been tremendous hosts for us.

Today’s discussions reflected the broad and growing bilateral security cooperation between our two governments and reinforced the fact that Bangladesh matters very much to the United States. The United States continues to implement President Obama’s objective to intensify our role in the Asia Pacific and play a larger and long-term role in shaping the region and it future. I would note that President Obama is getting on a plane today in the United States to begin his trip to four Asian nations.

The United States promotes American interests by helping to ensure that 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 this broader strategy and our commitment to the rebalance towards the Asia Pacific. This provides a context for our focus on Bangladesh and South Asia, and on our goal to build stronger and more robust security relationships in the region. 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.

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. We value Bangladesh’s tradition as a secular democracy, and we see Bangladesh as a regional model in terms of counter-terrorism cooperation. We thank Bangladesh for serving as a global leader in peacekeeping operations and in contributing resources and manpower to UN peacekeeping operation missions.

Yesterday before the start of the dialogue I visited BIPSOT and I got to see firsthand Bangladeshi peacekeeping expertise that’s really a model and an inspiration to countries around the world. I think the Bangladeshis should take great pride for what your nation’s peacekeepers have achieved.

We also appreciate the Bangladeshi government’s efforts to promote regional integration and to improve bilateral relations with India.

Our security relationship with Bangladesh is focused on four pillars. First, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; second, peace through peacekeeping operations and defense cooperation; third, counter-terrorism; and finally, security through both maritime and border security.

In 2013 we realized significant tangible achievements, making it one of the most successful years ever in our bilateral security and military relationships. The United States seeks a relationship with the government of Bangladesh that contributes to regional and global stability and security based on shared interests and values and the mutual desire for a stable, secure and prosperous world. All of this in a context that respects human rights, the rule of law and civilian supremacy over the military.

A strong bilateral relationship and improved defense 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.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the work of my friend, Ambassador Dan Mozena, in Bangladesh. I’m sure you know this already, but I can tell you from Washington’s perspective, he has been a tremendous advocate for U.S.-Bangladesh bilateral relations, and he has really succeeded greatly in bringing our two nations closer. So thank you very much for your efforts, sir.

With that, I’d be happy to join my Bangladeshi colleague in answering any questions you might have.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: I thank both the leader from Bangladesh side and United States side. The floor is yours for the journalists but I have a small request. If you could maintain it, I’ll be happy. If you could concentrate and limit your question to the Security Dialogue, it will be helpful for our dignitaries to reply to those questions. At the same time I would also request to you that you can address any one of them, the leader of the delegation of Bangladesh side or leader of the delegation of the U.S. side. Or the question will be even in general.

Media: My name is Shamim Ahmed, I work for New Age English Daily. I have a question for Ambassador Tom Kelly.

Among the talking points you have discussed the bilateral maritime security. And we have been seeing that in the past few months a number of U.S. Navy Chiefs visited Bangladesh, and recently United States transferred the Cutter Coast Guard to our Navy. My question is, what is the threat you think for Bangladesh maritime boundary apart from normal piracy and other things? And why U.S. wants to make its presence felt in the Bay of Bengal.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: Thank you. Let us take two more questions.

Media: I am Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan, I work for The Independent. I have one question each for two Ambassadors. Ambassador Kamal and Ambassador Tom Kelly.

The question for Ambassador Kamal, if I may. Did the U.S. side express any specific concern regarding counter-terrorism issues in Bangladesh? Did they raise any specific threat or anything that Bangladesh needs to address? The first question.

Second question is did Bangladesh ask any specific military or security assistance during the dialogue?

Media: I am Shahriar Zaman, I am from the Dhaka Tribune. I have a question for our Secretary and also to the Director General.

Both of you have mentioned that you briefed the U.S. side about the cooperation you have with Afghanistan, Myanmar, India. Have you asked what U.S. has, U.S. relation with other countries? Thank you.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: Yes, we asked. I said that we discussed about our relationship, both Bangladesh and United States relationship with these countries, regional countries. But for other questions I’ll go back to Ambassador Kelly, and then maybe Ambassador Mustafa Kamal.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly: Thank you. I think the only question that was for me was for the first one which related to maritime security, asking what exactly was the American motivation to help Bangladesh enhance maritime security in the Bay of Bengal.

I would stress that freedom of navigation throughout the world’s waterways is a fundamental interest of the United States. And in fact it’s been one of the motivating factors in our foreign policy, in our security strategy, almost from the time the United States was founded. In fact, the U.S. Navy only began to manufacture ships in a significant way because American merchant shipping was being preyed upon by pirates off the Barbary Coast, and that is basically the first mission that the U.S. Navy had and it continues to be a critically important mission for the United States all over the world.

Increasingly the sea lanes are really the veins and capillaries of global capitalism, and they simply cannot function if maritime security isn’t established in the world’s most important waterways.

The Bay of Bengal unites the Middle East and India with the economies of East and Southeast Asia, as well as the growing economies of Africa. So it’s absolutely critical not just for Bangladesh, not just for the countries of Asia, but for the United States and all countries of the world that true maritime security is established in the Bay of Bengal. And I must say that we have been extremely impressed by Bangladeshi authorities’ success in enhancing maritime security in the Bay of Bengal. Since we were able to provide a former U.S. Coast Guard cutter, which used to be called the Jarvis, to Bangladeshi authorities, the Somudra Joy has contributed to a very impressive reduction in the rate of piracy and smuggling in the Bay of Bengal, and that has impressed us so much in fact that I insisted when I came to Bangladesh that I have a chance to go to Chittagong to see the Sumodra Joy and to visit the crew and congratulate them for their success. That’s what we’re going to be doing tomorrow. We’re going down to Chittagong.

So I would say to you that the fact that Bangladesh is making significant inroads in establishing maritime security is something that’s very important to the United States and we hope to be able to provide further assistance to Bangladesh to further enhance your country’s maritime security.

Mostafa Kamal, Secretary (bilateral) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh: If I may answer Mr. Humayun Kabir’s question. The first question was did the U.S. raise any particular concern regarding counter-terrorism. No, there was nothing like that. In fact this is absolutely a routine matter that we have always been discussing, not only in the security dialogue. Even much before we have been discussing at bilateral levels regarding strengthening of Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism. I think you all realize it is also a national priority that Bangladesh security forces should be equipped in fighting terrorism, countering terrorism.

So basically it was that. There was no particular specific case that they had cited that we should address. So this is the answer for the first question.

The second was I think from Mr. Shariar Zaman. You had asked whether Bangladesh armed forces or the armed forces division has made any specific request for purchase, or what was that? Oh, that was yours.

Media: Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan, The Independent: This is what I asked. I asked Ambassador Kelly.

Mostafa Kamal, Secretary (bilateral) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh: Has Ambassador Kelly answered that?

Media: Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan, The Independent: No.

Mostafa Kamal, Secretary (bilateral) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh: Okay, let Ambassador Kelly answer that. But before that if you’ll kindly allow me, I’d just like to make a small little clarification. Ambassador Kelly has just spoken. He had mentioned about piracy in the Bay of Bengal. I just wanted to make this clear, that there is no piracy in the Bay of Bengal, not in our Bangladesh economic zone. Piracy, it can termed, piracy, if there is any major incident, only if it is beyond 200 kilometers economic zone from the coast line. Only then it can be termed as piracy. So whatever there has been happening or is happening in Bangladesh cannot be termed as piracy. This can be called --

Media: Shamim Ahmed, New Age: You are discussing maritime security for a long time. What’s the threat to our maritime boundary? If there is no piracy, there is no threat why you are discussing this.

Mostafa Kamal, Secretary (bilateral) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh: Basically it is for regional security and you perhaps are aware that our Coast Guard and our Navy is not strong enough. We don’t have that kind of defense force. So if you see such a huge sea area is open, we hardly have any naval or Coast Guard equipment, so it was because of that the United States government thought that Bangladesh required this. So they presented it to us, this Jarvis, which became Sumodra Joy. This much I can tell you. Anything more?

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: There was a question that whether Bangladesh side asked for any assistance, particular assistance to the U.S. side. That was your question Kabir?

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly: Sure. I’m happy to answer that. The answer is yes, of course they asked for continued security assistance. We have several different streams of security assistance to Bangladesh and they’re consistent with the four pillars of security relationship that we have. Again, that’s disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism, maritime and border security, and peacekeeping. We have lots of different security assistance programs, many of which are administered through my bureau in the Department of State. That’s the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

For example, we have what’s called the Foreign Military Financing Program, which provides grant funds to enable Bangladesh to fulfill various security needs. For example, we used some Foreign Military Financing funds in the past to provide fast boats to Bangladeshi authorities to act against smuggling in Bangladeshi waters.

Another aspect of our security assistance that Bangladeshi authorities expressed continued interest in is our military personnel exchange and education program, which is administered through the U.S. International Military Education and Training program by which Bangladeshi officers have the opportunity to study with their American counterparts often in the United States to learn more profoundly about the way that we do business. We feel that this program is extremely important not just for immediate benefits, but to build ties that last for many decades.

Then we also support Bangladeshi peacekeeping efforts, which personally I find inspiring and I think lead the entire world, through our Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative, by which we provide financial and in-kind assistance to help Bangladeshi authorities prepare their peacekeepers, indeed some of the best and bravest peacekeepers in the world, to go into harm’s way all over the world to promote global peace.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: Thank you. We have time for a second round of questions, and I identify three hands. Let me go one by one Mr. Zahir of NTV and Mainul of Ittefaq and one hand at that end. Please Zahir.

Media: This is Zahir, I work for NTV.

On what kind of strategic directions you agreed, both parties, to deal with the, after assessing full day on the regional integration? And what are the objectives you try to achieve before the fourth round of Security Dialogue takes place? Thank you.

Media: This is Mainul Alam, I work for the Daily Ittefaq.

I want to ask Mr. Kelly, the leader of U.S. delegation. Do you consider, or do you evaluate the situation of our security personnel about their human rights violation issues or their other natures that doesn’t match with their work. Human rights violations, do you consider this time?

Media: My name is Nurul Islam Hasib, I work with BDNews24.com.

My question is, Ambassador Tom, it’s about Chinese Navy exercise in which Bangladesh joined along with many other countries. So I would like to draw your attention to get your view. My question is, does that mean China has managed to get all South Asian nations into its own perspective for Asian maritime cooperation? And does that mean they are taking away the leadership from U.S. since U.S. does exercise in Malabar for long?

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly: Thank you very much for all those questions.

In terms of strategic directions that we may have applied to regional integration, of course I can only speak to security issues. But I will say that in our discussion of Bangladesh’s neighborhood we talked about the importance for both of our countries to be engaged in promoting regional integration. Regional integration is something that we certainly believe in. It makes perfect sense. And we certainly want Bangladesh to have excellent security relationships with all of its neighbors … with Burma, with India, and indeed with all of the countries of the region.

In terms of the objectives that we hope to achieve before the fourth round, let me just say that the agenda that we had was extraordinarily rich. I travel all over the world. I carry out these dialogues with many countries around the world and there are very few dialogues that we have with any country in the world that are as significant and substantive and varied as the one that we have with Bangladesh.

So I think that rather than giving you a laundry list of the different things that we hope to achieve, let me just say that our objective is to continue to help Bangladesh advance to a role of leadership in a number of security-related issues with regional and global implications. And that certainly includes peacekeeping as well as maritime security, as well as disaster relief.

Bangladesh has advanced so far in these areas that it’s now in a position where it can help other nations in Asia and around the world, and the United States has a big stake in helping Bangladesh to accomplish that.

The second question, whether human rights was discussed and the question of security personnel.

Let me just say with that, that we appreciate very much the challenges that Bangladesh faces in the fight against terrorism. That said, we’re a country of democratic traditions, with great respect for human rights, and I know that’s the case in Bangladesh as well. So as you would expect among friends, we had a respectful dialogue on issues of human rights.

When I go to the U.S. Congress and ask for funds for any kind of security assistance, I’m asked about the human rights situation and the situation of democratic governance, so I was very happy to explain the way that our system works and have encouraged Bangladesh to continue to improve on those efforts as much as possible.

I’ll ask Ambassador Mozena to say a few words about that too because I know that’s an issue that is of interest to him.

The final question is on the naval exercise that Bangladesh participated in along with China. I would just say that the United States fully respects Bangladesh’s sovereign right to engage in exercises and any kind of bilateral interchange with any other country that it wants. In fact the United States also carries out a wide range of military-to-military engagement with China, and we hope that Bangladesh would be comfortable in allowing us to go ahead and engage in those exchanges with China.

So we really don’t have any problems there as well. Of course Bangladesh continues to participate with us in a number of military exercises as well. So we feel very serene about the state of our bilateral security relationship with Bangladesh as evidenced by the very robust dialogue that we’ve just carried out. Also we feel very comfortable with our situation in Asia. I’ve traveled to Asia many times along with many other American colleagues. There’s a great degree of interest in America’s engagement with countries across Asia. And I’m confident that that’s going to continue to be the case.

Ambassador Dan Mozena: I would speak to the issue of human rights in a broader, more general fashion, and draw your attention to our Annual Human Rights Report, which was released earlier this year and the Bangla version just came out a few weeks back. It’s all available online. So these are the kinds of issues that we have discussions with you and with the government on.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: Thank you. A third round of questions. I have identified three.

Media: My name is Masud Karim. I work for the Daily Jugantar Newspaper here.

Two questions. One question for Ambassador Kelly. Ambassador Kelly, I would like to know about whether United States is willing to cooperate with Bangladesh to tackle the climate change. The global warming is heating Bangladesh weather and atmosphere is warming. So whether the United States helping Bangladesh any way.

Also, did you discuss in the security perspective, the very big security threat because of the climate change? So whether, did you discuss in this forum about the polluters’ role in facing the climate change effects?

My second question to Ambassador Mustafa Kamal. You just mentioned that you have discussed about the nuclear safety. What aspect you have discussed, whether you have discussed the proposed nuclear plant in Rampur or whether the nuclear risk in India and Pakistan? What aspect did you discuss about the nuclear safety? Thank you.

Media: My name is Abdul Majid I’m working at Boishakhi TV. My question is to Tom.

I am informed that during the past Bangladesh-U.S. dialogue on security issues held in April 2012, the U.S. side elaborately expressed their views on China. At that meeting the U.S. delegation said the U.S. is mindful of China’s military modernization plans and is closely monitoring China’s military advancement. The U.S. delegation expressed their concern over China’s behavior in the South China Sea as well as in the Indian Ocean region and mentioned that it is of U.S. national interest to maintain peace and stability in this region, and China to follow provisions of international law.

My question is, in which capacity U.S. side expressed this because this type of dialogue is only for bilateral and in this region. China is not a country of South Asian region.

Second question, did you express same at this meeting?

Media: My name is Raheed Ejaz, I represent Prothom Alo.

As we know, the U.S. provides the Jarvis for the Bangladesh Navy and Excess Defense Article (EDA) Program. So during the course of your discussion did Bangladesh seek any sort of equipment either for the Bangladesh Navy or the Air Force under the EDA? That is the first one.

Also I want to know how much money does the U.S. so far provided to Bangladesh under the Foreign Military Finance or anti-terrorism assistance?

My second part of the question directed to Secretary Mustafa Kamal, in your opening remarks you have mentioned that some future areas of cooperation are identified. Can you please elaborate us on those future areas of cooperation? Thank you.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: So all of them asked two questions. Somehow I missed the second question from Boishakhi TV. If you could repeat that one. Second question.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly: I got it.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: Okay then, it’s fine. So it’s time for the replies.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly: Number one, question on climate change. Climate change is primarily an environmental issue so it wasn’t really a main focus of our discussion. I will say that the Obama administration is quite focused on climate change and has taken a role of global leadership on climate change. One of the events that’s coming up that I did discuss with some of my Bangladeshi counterparts, though we did not do it during this dialogue, was the conference on oceans that Secretary Kerry is going to be hosting in Washington that’s coming up very soon. I encouraged Bangladeshi authorities to participate in that because I think that it’s very important for the world to hear what Bangladesh has to say.

I will say that the U.S. government and especially the U.S. military through the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii are cooperating with Bangladeshi authorities on a number of ways to mitigate natural disasters. So we talked about how to improve Bangladesh’s disaster risk management, how we could cooperate on science and technology for emergency response. And we talked about how we could help Bangladesh’s National Disaster Management Research and Training Institute. So in that sense we were getting at part of the issue. The United States certainly understands Bangladesh’s unique vulnerabilities and its keen interest in climate change-related issues, and we’re very much engaged with Bangladesh on those issues.

On the pair of questions on China. The first thing I think it’s important to say to all of you about what we discussed about China in the dialogue was we didn’t discuss China in the dialogue. I think the main reason we didn’t discuss China in any significant way in the dialogue was there are just so many other issues that we had to talk about in terms of how we advance our progress.

But you also asked, I guess, perhaps a more philosophical question about why would the United States and Bangladesh talk about countries that aren’t directly in South Asia? Although we didn’t talk about China, let me explain to you why we do that.

Part of why we hold these dialogues is so we on the U.S. side can learn more about the perspectives of other countries about what’s going on in the world. As bilateral relationships become more mature and as countries like Bangladesh become more influential throughout the world, we spend less and less time talking about bilateral issues and we spend more time talking about all the shared global challenges and issues that we’re dealing with all over the world.

So the fact that we’re talking to Bangladesh about issues beyond South Asia isn’t a reflection of anything besides our great respect for the views of Bangladesh and for our feeling that Bangladesh is really an emerging leader in the world in the 21st Century.

There was another question. Did Bangladesh seek more equipment from us? The answer to that is that Bangladesh did express its interest in receiving more equipment from us. There’s various ways for Bangladesh to obtain military equipment from the United States. Of course we feel that the provision through our Excess Defense Articles Program of the Jarvis, now the Somudra Joy, to Bangladesh was a huge success. And the way in which Bangladesh has first sustained that vessel and secondly used it in a number of very important missions to enhance maritime security in the Bay of Bengal encourages us to very seriously consider further such transfers. I can assure all of you that we’re looking at that very carefully in Washington.

But Bangladesh also provided us with other material requests, especially related to their peacekeeping operations, and I can assure you there that we took very careful notes and we’ll be carrying that back to Washington and taking a look at those requests.

With respect to your question about how much money we’re providing in the Foreign Military Financing Program, the answer is last year was $2.5 million in FY2014.

Mostafa Kamal, Secretary (bilateral) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh: Answering the question that was raised by Mr. Masud Karim regarding nuclear safety. Basically it was the Bangladesh side that briefed the United States side regarding what it is doing regarding nuclear safety. We did not discuss Rooppur nuclear power plant at all. So although it was not discussed, certainly it was there at the back of our minds that yes, there is something which is coming up. Are we prepared? So this kind of concern can be there in the U.S. side. But there was no reference to Rooppur nuclear plant whatsoever. We just briefed them on what kind of safety measures that we are taking. We had our representatives from the Atomic Energy Commission, they briefed the U.S. side on this aspect. That is number one.

Number two, regarding Mr. Raheed Ejaz, you wanted to know whether we had what kind of future cooperation or what future cooperation did we discuss. We discussed future cooperation on a number of areas as Ambassador Tom Kelly has just mentioned. Peacekeeping operations. That’s the major area. Then non-proliferation. Then we discussed also on the concept paper for BIPSOT. Disaster management. This is a huge area. Then we discussed counter-terrorism assistance. This is a huge area too. Countering extremism and terrorism, and global fund for community engagement and resilience. These are the kinds of aspects on which we wanted cooperation and I think these are very important for Bangladesh. Thank you.

Mahfuz Rahman, Director General America’s Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh: This was our third Security Dialogue. That’s why I thought that I will take three rounds of questions. So can I conclude now? Okay then. Thank you everyone.



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