Locklear Encourages U.S.-Bangladesh Ties

WASHINGTON | Praising Bangladesh as a global model in both peacekeeping and disaster management, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told Bangladeshi leaders and reporters Oct. 10 he welcomes more opportunities for the United States and Bangladesh to work together to support their mutual security interests.

Locklear visited Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city, where he met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Army Chief Gen. Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan and Navy Chief Vice Adm. Zahir Uddin Ahmed.

The United States, Bangladesh and other regional neighbors all stand to benefit from a strong U.S.-Bangladeshi military-to-military relationship, Locklear told reporters following the meetings.

“As I look across this part of the world, having a prosperous, secure and safe Bangladesh is a cornerstone to the future security of this part of the world,” he said.

Locklear recognized strides Bangladesh — the world’s seventh-most-populated country — has made as it learns to prosper in a challenging geographic environment.

With a long history of devastating natural disasters, Bangladesh has made tremendous strides in managing their effects, the admiral said. “I think it is a model for others to follow,” he said, expressing hope that the United States and Bangladesh can “learn from each other and strengthen our cooperation in some of these key areas.”

In addition, Bangladesh has become “the world standard for peacekeeping operations,” Locklear said. “And there is a lot that other nations can learn from what your forces do globally in support of U.N.-sanctioned peacekeeping operations,” he added.

Bangladesh also recently built and launched its first ship, “quite an accomplishment” toward building a maritime force, he said.

Locklear congratulated both Bangladesh and Burma for taking their dispute over territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in the Bay of Bengal to the international law of the sea tribunal. The tribunal handed down its judgment in March.

Calling this “an excellent model” for other nations around the world, Locklear said the tribunals offer a way to deal with contested maritime areas in the South China Sea, East China Sea and elsewhere around the world.

Asked by a reporter, Locklear said any support from the United States to help Bangladesh defend its waters as defined by the tribunal would be at the request of the Bangladeshi government.

“And we will help in ways that would improve their capacity to be able to monitor what is going on in their maritime areas and to respond when their maritime interests are at stake,” he said.

Assigning “a very good grade” to the military-to-military relationship between the United States and Bangladesh, Locklear said he would like to build on it to become stronger partners in ensuring a positive security environment.

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Article written by Donna Miles, courtesy of Defence Professionals.

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