The US will engage with Myanmar anew over the Rohingya repatriation and human rights violations in Rakhine State after the national elections in Myanmar to be held on November 8, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said today.
"We said we want Rohingya repatriation, not any long-term plan of assistance for them in Bangladesh," he told reporters after a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Beigun at a hotel in the capital.
"The US deputy secretary of state said they have already imposed some sanctions. Now that there is national election on November 8 in Myanmar, they will engage on Rohingya repatriation after that," the state minister said.
Beigun also expected the neighbouring countries to engage more in addressing the Rohingya crisis in a sustainable way.
The US official arrived in Dhaka -- from India -- this afternoon on a three-day visit.
The more than an hour-long meeting over dinner also discussed different issues regarding trade and investment.
Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh has invited US companies for offshore gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal. In response, Stephen Beigun said there is already a US company supplying LNG in Bangladesh and he will look into the possibility of more energy companies to come here.
"It [selection of companies] happens through open bidding. Also, it happens through direct negotiation. If we get that sort of company, we can go for that as well," Shahriar Alam said.
During the meeting, Bangladesh also sought US assistance as it is supporting some countries on bilateral basis based on their relations. Stephen Beigun, however, said Bangladesh's economy size is bigger and therefore, they want something bigger with Bangladesh.
"They are interested more on free trade agreement," Alam said.
Beigun also said Bangladesh will be a priority country for Covid-19 vaccine when US companies can produce it.
He said US will also look into the aspect of Bangladesh's private sector engaging in vaccine production.
The US official wanted to know the products that Bangladesh have for export other than textile.
"We said we have jute, ship-building, ICT, pharmaceutical, and leather products," he said.
Stephen Beigun said the US and Bangladesh held a consultation on economic cooperation. Under the framework, US will advance to boost trade with Bangladesh.
Asked if the US deputy secretary of state discussed the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) that seeks free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, Shahriar Alam said there was nothing specific on that.
The state minister, however, said IPS is not anything new, adding that Bangladesh has always supported an open and secure Indo-Pacific.
Asked if Bangladesh has sought Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities that were suspended in 2013 following Rana Plaza collapse, Shahriar Alam said GSP is going to end by this year end.
"There will be something new. We will then negotiate," he said.
Stephen Beigun is scheduled to visit the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi tomorrow, then hold meetings with prime minister, foreign minister, visit Kurmitola General Hospital and hand over some medical equipment to treat Covid-19 patients and hold a roundtable with journalists.