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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hillary Clinton to visit China, Bangladesh, India

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to China, Bangladesh and India with modest agenda over bilateral relations with these Asian nations, the State Department said on Thursday.

While in Beijing on May 3-4, the top US envoy and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will join their Chinese co-chairs, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, for the fourth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Politics and other factors have reduced expectations for U.S. relations with India, where Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will spend three days after a rare stop in Bangladesh.

Hopes were high after Congress passed a U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement in 2008 that the two countries would forge a close military and strategic partnership.
But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's three-day trip to India, starting Sunday after a weekend stop in Bangladesh, comes amid reduced expectations and political distraction on both sides and a relationship increasingly marked by incremental movement on a variety of issues.

The S&ED was created in 2009 to help both nations manage their bilateral relations and promote communication.
"As with earlier S&EDs, this year's event will be a 'whole of government' dialogue that brings together cabinet members and agency heads, as well as other officials and experts, from agencies across both of our governments," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

In addition, Clinton will co-chair with Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong the third US-China High-Level Consultation on People- to-People Exchange (CPE), an event to be held in parallel with the S&ED.
"The CPE aims to enhance and strengthen ties between the citizens of the United States and China in the areas of culture, education, sports, science and technology, and women's issues," Nuland said.

During her stay in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, the secretary will meet with senior government officials and civil society representatives to review "robust" bilateral cooperation across a range of political, economic and security matters, the spokeswoman said.
In Calcutta, capital of India's West Bengal state, Clinton looks forward to meeting state officials and civil society organization representatives.
While in India's capital of New Delhi, she will discuss with Indian government officials about the upcoming US-India Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington on June 13, Nuland said.

 At a private discussion among friends, the question that we all asked one another was why the US secretary of state was visiting Bangladesh. Like the story of the seven blind men looking at the elephant, each one of us had a view that differed from the other.
So far for such an important visit, the only one who is upbeat is the US ambassador who might be knowing something that neither the government nor the opposition seems to know. It is not that US secretary of state visits Bangladesh regularly. In fact, the last visit of a US Secretary of State to Dhaka was that of George P Schultz in the era of President Ershad.

The way the Bangladesh government spurned the request of Hillary Clinton and President Obama for an honorable exit to Dr Yunus made a lot of people speculate that the US government is very unhappy with the present government of Bangladesh. Many have speculated that she is so angry that she has used her influence to stop the World Bank from funding the Padma Bridge to get back at the prime minister and the Bangladesh government.
The surprise and un-preparedness of the Bangladesh government was amply reflected by its reaction or the lack of it to the visit. Normally for such an important visit, the government should have reacted very enthusiastically. The reasons are obvious. The US has the power to turn Bangladesh into a middle income country quicker than the ruling party expects. It is the biggest market for our RMG exports that have given Bangladesh a good measure of economic success already.

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