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Hasina discusses Rohingya issue with Thein Sein

About half a million undocumented Rohingya refugees are residing in Bangladesh putting serious pressure on the country. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with Myanmar President Thein Sein

By Sheikh Shahariar Zaman 
March 5, 2014

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has discussed the Rohingya issue with Myanmar President Thein Sein and Speaker Thura Shwe Mann.

She also discussed social development and achievements by Bangladesh with Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the Bimstec summit held in Naypyitaw.

“The prime minister discussed how Bangladesh and Myanmar can resolve the Rohingya issue bilaterally,” Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

About half a million undocumented Rohingya refugees are residing in Bangladesh putting serious pressure on the country.

Another foreign ministry official said the leadership of the countries agreed to resolve the Rohingya problem after holding mutual discussions.

He said the Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi wanted to know about the social experiments and their results in Bangladesh.

“She also expressed interest in the banking sector as Myanmar lacks the proper financial infrastructure,” he added.

The prime minister went to Naypyitaw Monday morning on a special flight with an entourage of 50 officials to attend the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit to be held today.

Hasina will meet her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh today on the sidelines of the summit. This will be the first meeting between the two prime ministers after the Awami League came back to power through an election on January 5.

Teesta agreement, ratification of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) and other important bilateral issues would be discussed in the meeting, said another foreign official.

The interim Teesta deal could not be inked because of the strong protests by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while the LBA ratification process was delayed due to determined resistance by different stakeholders including India’s BJP.

Hasina will also have meetings with the presidents and prime ministers of Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, he said.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand are the member countries of Bimstec and Myanmar is the current chair.

Bimstec was formed in Bangkok in 1997 and had its first summit in in that city in 2004 and the second one in New Delhi in 2008.

It has 14 sectors based on issues, and Bangladesh is the lead country for trade, investment and climate change.

At the summit, the countries were likely to sign a deal to set up the Bimstec Secretariat in Dhaka and also a weather and climate centre in New Delhi, said another diplomat.

An agreement on a cultural industries commission, to be set up in Thimpu, was also in the pipeline, he said.

The government has already allocated a building in Gulshan as an interim headquarters for the secretariat. The completed renovation of the building is expected in three or four months.

Sri Lankan Diplomat Sumith Nakandala will be the first secretary general of Bimstec. He will visit Dhaka after the completion of the headquarters.

Meanwhile, a press release of the Foreign Ministry said Bimstec’s permanent Secretariat in Dhaka would start functioning from May.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam affirmed that the secretariat would start functioning in May 2014 following the signing of the memorandum of association that will bring it into existence.

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