US official due in South Asia this week, will travel to Islamabad, Dhaka, Colombo

The Trump administration while announcing its Afghan policy this week, reviewed its policies for the entire South Asian region and not just Afghanistan.

Irshad Salim — The acting assistant secretary of US Department of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Alice Wells, will travel to Islamabad, Dhaka and Colombo from August 28-September 2.

Wells will travel to these South Asian countries, said the US Department of State yesterday, according to Bangladesh local newspaper The Daily Star, without specifying dates for the Dhaka visit, although the report cited diplomatic sources saying the Dhaka leg will span August 29-30.

Alice Wells will meet with Bangladesh government officials including Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, business leaders, and civil society representatives to discuss US cooperation in the region.

A diplomatic source said the US official, in her maiden trip to Dhaka on August 29-30, is likely to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s advisors on energy, defense and international affairs.

Amid changing dynamics in the region’s geopolitics, the state official’s visit is important, analysts say. Dhaka and Beijing are getting close with massive soft loans and investment committed promised to the former by China under its One Belt One Road initiative, they said.

The Trump administration while announcing its Afghan policy this week, reviewed its policies for the entire South Asian region and not just Afghanistan.

Trump has now approved an extended American presence in Afghanistan, although neither he nor his military leaders have provided any specifics about troop numbers or timelines. However, regional diplomacy which includes inducting India in the peace process has been jump-started.

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