South and Central Asia: Remarks at the Sixth U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue

Thank you very much your excellency. I am delighted to be back in Dhaka for the U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue. I would like to thank Foreign Secretary Haque and the Bangladesh government for hosting me and my team. I am especially grateful to the people of Bangladesh to have received me with typical generosity and kindness. This is my second visit to Bangladesh, and the second time I have participated in the Partnership Dialogue. This is the sixth Partnership Dialogue since 2012. This annual dialogue is an important opportunity to discuss our cooperation on global, regional and bilateral matters of concern to both of our countries. Foreign secretary Haque and I discussed the full range of important issues today.

We devoted special attention to our trade and prosperity agenda, as well as security in the Indian Ocean region, combating trans-national terrorists groups, our approach to North Korea’s dangerous and provocative conduct, and, as the Foreign Secretary noted, the Rohingya crisis. As this dialogue demonstrates, the United States and Bangladesh collaborate on many important issues and share a long history of cooperation. It also demonstrates our commitment to a vision of a tolerant, democratic Bangladesh that serves as a bridge for commerce between South and Southeast Asia.

The Foreign Secretary and I also discussed the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Bangladesh’s border with Burma. I reiterated our concern expressed by officials at the highest level of the U.S. government including President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary Tillerson regarding the scale of the violence that has been reported in northern Rakhine state and our commitment to see accountability for those actions. I conveyed our deep appreciation and respect for the generosity of the government and people of Bangladesh in responding to the more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25. Bangladesh is an anchor for stability and prosperity in the region, and we appreciate the government’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Last month Secretary of State Tillerson described our strategic interests and guiding principles in the Indo-Pacific region in a speech he gave at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. These include free trade and sustainable development, rule of law, freedom of navigation, and support for the universal values of democracy and human rights. We are grateful to be able to count Bangladesh as a close and reliable partner in these endeavours.

I would like to close by again thanking my Bangladeshi counterpart for hosting me, for making todays dialogue so substantive and productive, and for their commitment to the U.S.-Bangladesh partnership. To the people of Bangladesh, let me reiterate our respectful commitment to the friendship that we have binds together our two great nations. Thank you very much.