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Burmese Deputy FM to visit Bangladesh

News and Press Release
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Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Maung Myint, Deputy Burmese Foreign Minister will be in Dhaka on December 28, for a two-day bilateral meet, a Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry official said.

The official at the Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Office in Dhaka told Mizzima on Tuesday that Maung Myint, will hold bilateral talks, which will also include discussions on the issue of thousands of Muslim Rohingya minorities illegally residing in Bangladesh.

"He [Maung Myint] is scheduled to arrive here [Dhaka] on that day," the official said. He confirmed that the issue of Rohingya refugees would be on the agenda but refused to provide details of the meeting.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes on Saturday told a press conference in Dhaka that during the ensuing bilateral talks, Bangladesh and Burma will discuss trade, border issues and repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

In November 2008, a dispute broke out between Burma and Bangladesh over maritime boundary after Burma's warships escorted vessels in the Bay of Bengal to explore for natural gas. Both sides sent warships to the disputed area.

The tension was defused when Burma finally withdrew its warships from the disputed territorial waters.

There was fresh tension between the two countries earlier this year, when Burma began constructing a border fence along the Naf River, leading to both sides reinforcing their security forces.

Burma claimed that the border fence was being built to curb illegal activities, including trespassing and migration along the Bangladesh-Burma border.

Tin Soe, Assistant Editor of the Chittagong-based Kaladan Press Network (KNP), the Rohingya News Agency, said the Burmese military junta's ill-treatment has led to thousands of Rohingya minorities to seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Rohingya minorities, who are predominantly Muslims residing in Buthitaung and Maung Daw townships in Northern Arakan state, bordering Bangladesh's Chittagong hill-tracts, have reportedly crossed over to the Bangladeshi side of the border in thousands.

Tin Soe, a Rohingya minority himself, said the Rohingya have long been victims of various human rights violations including restrictions in movement, limited marriage permits, denial of citizenship and restrictions in pursuing higher education.

"If they [Bangladesh and Burma] plan to repatriate, they should make sure that Burma will give freedom of religion, equal rights, and recognize Rohingya as Burmese citizens and provide them basic needs," Tin Soe said. "Only after that the flow of Rohingya into Bangladesh from Burma can stop."

While there are over 30,000 Rohingya refugees recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) office in Bangladesh, several thousands of undocumented Rohingya refugees are reportedly living in various parts of Bangladesh.