John Kerry arrives in Bangladesh amid wave of attacks on minorities

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here on Monday on a day-long visit to hold talks with the top Bangladeshi leadership on key issues like security and terrorism amid a series of brutal attacks on minorities in the Muslim-majority nation.

“Kerry will focus on strengthening our longstanding bilateral partnership on democracy, development, security and human rights,” the US State Department had said in a statement ahead of his visit. The US and Bangladesh have a “longstanding partnership” with “programmes in place for many, many years that deal with counter-terrorism and security partnership,” a senior US State Department official said ahead of Kerry’s arrival.

In Dhaka, Kerry will call on Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina, hold talks with his counterpart AH Mahmood Ali and interact with leading civil society figures. He will also visit a garment factory and Bangabandhu National Museum. After wrapping up his visit, Kerry would leave for New Delhi in the evening.

According to analysts, the visit takes place amid the perception that the US is not happy with the incumbent government following the last parliamentary elections that Washington did not find “credible” as BNP-led opposition boycotted the vote. Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation, is reeling from a wave of murders of secular, liberal activists and religious minorities.

Victims of the attacks by suspected Islamists have included secular bloggers, gay rights activists and followers of minority religions including Hindus, Christians and Muslim Sufis and Shiites.

In July, a Bangladeshi cafe was attacked by terrorists, killing 22 people including an Indian girl. The cafe attack has prompted foreigners, including potential investors, to leave Bangladesh – sparking worries for its garment industry, the world’s second largest after China.