Foreign ministry officials had a busy day on Tuesday as three high officials from three of the diplomatically significant countries – US State Department Counselor Undersecretary Derek Chollet, India Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, and South Korean President’s Special Envoy Jang Sung-min – flied in Dhaka on different missions on the same day.
Strengthening Relations On US Undersecretary’s Agenda
US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet has arrived in Dhaka in the afternoon on a two-day visit. He is an Undersecretary (secretary)-ranked official of the US State Department, but serves as an Advisor to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Diplomatic sources say Derek Chollet intends to have a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. An advance team has already reached to mark his visit. The team already visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. Derek Chollet’s Bangladesh tour was supposed to have a visit to Rohingya camps. In the end, it was not confirmed whether he was going or not.
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Officials involved said the Rohingya and Myanmar issues will be given special importance in the discussion with the Bangladeshi officials. In an interview with Channel I’s Tritiyomatra talk-show last week prior to his Bangladesh visit, Derek Chollet said the US is trying to ease the Rohingya pressure on Bangladesh. The US is also attempting to take some of the Rohingya refugees, who have sought refuge in the country.
He said, “The situation in Myanmar is getting worse…We are deeply concerned about this.”
Rohingya crisis and overall security issues of the Indo-Pacific region may take priority during Derek Chollet’s visit. According to Chollet, Bangladesh is very important in the Indo-Pacific region. For this reason, high-level officials of the United States are frequently visiting Bangladesh.
Derek Chollet admits that no democracy is perfect. But they always try to improve themselves, admit their mistakes, and try to improve. He said that they promote freedom of the press, free and fair elections, and civil society in the spirit of partnership and friendship.
Indian Foreign Secretary’s Visit
The Indian Foreign Secretary, on the other hand, is visiting to mainly discuss the bilateral agreements between the two countries. The Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between Bangladesh and India is scheduled to take place on February 15, 2023. He is expected to hold meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen today after taking a special flight from Nepal.
During his visit, he will also talk to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr. AK Momen. It is known that the Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit to Dhaka will include discussion of all bilateral interests.
Besides reviewing the progress of the implementation of the decisions of the two Prime Ministers of the two countries and the various ministerial level meetings, the possible visit of PM Sheikh Hasina to India will be discussed. Apart from this, importance will be given to strengthening connectivity, border management, and economic relations.
This visit is Vinay Mohan Kwatra’s first bilateral visit to Dhaka as the Foreign Secretary of India. He had previously visited Bangladesh in April of last year as a guest of then-Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.
This year’s FOC between Dhaka and Delhi may discuss water resources management, cooperation in the power sector, the removal of trade barriers, progress in the implementation of projects under India’s line of credit, ongoing trade issues, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), and regional and international issues, including security. Apart from this, Bangladesh will also seek the cooperation of its old ally, India, in the repatriation of the Rohingya.
The last FOC between Bangladesh and India took place in January 2021 in New Delhi. The Indian Foreign Secretary is supposed to arrive in Dhaka by special flight today (Tuesday, February 14, 2023). Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen will welcome him at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. After the meeting of the two foreign secretaries at the Foreign Service Academy on Wednesday morning, the Foreign Office Consultation of the two countries will be held under their leadership. Vinay Mohan will attend a luncheon hosted by the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh in his honor on Wednesday afternoon. He will then pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban. The Indian Foreign Secretary is scheduled to leave Dhaka for Delhi on a special flight on the morning of Thursday, February 16.
South Korean official’s visit to define Future Strategic ties
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yool is sending a special envoy to Bangladesh led by Jang Sung-min, who is in Dhaka on a three-day visit. His visit is expected to review the relations between the two countries as well as discuss the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).
The special envoy was received by official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the South Korean Ambassador to Dhaka Lee Jang-Keun at the Dhaka airport at 2:00pm on Tuesday. It is known that the special envoy during the three-day visit will place floral wreaths at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi 32. He will formally meet with both Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr A K Momen.
Korean Diplomatic sources said the special envoy’s visit marks the occasion of celebrating the 50th anniversary of South Korea’s diplomatic relationship with Bangladesh. During the Presidential envoy’s visit, further discussion is also expected on issues of bilateral interests and IPS.