'Bangladesh, Myanmar have role to play in South Asia'

Kolkata, March 10: While stressing India’s key position, a US official on Tuesday said Bangladesh with its geographical advantages and a politically opening Myanmar provided greater opportunities to enhance regiol cooperation in South Asia. Addressing a two-day semir on “Building Pan Asian Connectivity”, US Department of State Regiol Affairs’ deputy director Neil Kromash also assured his country’s support in restoring democracy in Sri Lanka. “Bangladesh sometimes is overlooked in the discussions about regiol connectivity. Strategically situated at the intersection of Chi, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh enjoys advantageous geography that makes it an ideal hub for connectivity,” said Kromash.

Notwithstanding the political turmoil in Bangladesh, Kromash said the US would continue to engage with the country to strengthen bilateral ties with regiol economic cooperation being a high priority. “Since its political transition got underway in 2011, Myanmar has steadily been an area of significant opportunity,” he said. “So many challenges remain, but as the undeniable conduit between South and Southeast Asia, Myanmar and its improving economic climate has a big role to play in the region’s future capacity to ensure free flow of goods and services across borders,” said Kromash. The official spoke about Sri Lanka. “Positive developments have also taken place in Sri Lanka where the January elections brought a new government overthrowing a longstanding autocratic regime.

“The US will do all it can to support the new government in restoring democracy and heal fragile ethnic tensions,” said Kromash. Hailing Prime Minister rendra Modi for transforming the ‘Look East’ policy into ‘Act East’ policy, Kromash said eastern India, especially West Bengal, offered immense opportunities for further developing connectivity in South Asia.

“India’s rebranded Act East policy has moved beyond rhetoric and is taking shape across Indo-Pacific through summit level engagements with the ASEAN countries, trade agreements and other strategic investments meant to open new markets to the region. “Being the anchor of South Asia, India plays a leading role in this regiol equation,” added Kromash. (IANS)

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