US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun has told the Indian government that Washington goes to be consulting it more on its neighbouring countries, as he takes a key step towards resetting ties with Bangladesh at a gathering with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday.
Biegun goes to be the first high-ranking US official during a minimum of a decade to travel to Dhaka.
According to people familiar with the matter, Biegun, in his discussions with India’s foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, went over ways to strengthen the QUAD security dialogue and sought India’s inputs on its neighbourhood.
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They discussed bilateral cooperation on trade, including the event of common standards, a framework for investments, and building supply chains; apart from steps to help the Indian subcontinent answer the Covid-19 pandemic, and plans to distribute a vaccine when it’s ready.
The people cited above said that Shringla also briefed his US counterpart on Bangladesh, and told him about the need for Washington to interact with the Muslim-majority country, which is rising economically under this leadership.
Former US secretaries of state John Kerry and Hilary Clinton had shown their intention to travel to Dhaka but didn’t make the trip. For long, India has encouraged the US to interact with Bangladesh as under the leadership of Hasina, saying the country has taken a sharp recoil from a more radical approach under Khaleda Zia.
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Experts mean that the unstated backdrop to this is additionally that China has made huge inroads into Bangladesh, with the latter buying quite 80% of its military hardware from Beijing, including artillery guns and ammunition. While India had offered $500 million as a credit to Dhaka to buy for military hardware during the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit in 2018, the defence cooperation between the two neighbours remains to feature progress.
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