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Bangladesh plans to increase Myanmar's trust

August 27, 2014

Bangladesh will try to address a trust deficit with Myanmar in the upcoming foreign office consultations, the foreign minister has said.

AH Mahmood Ali on Tuesday said a Myanmar delegation led by its Deputy Foreign Minister U Thant Kyaw would join the consultation on Aug 31 in Dhaka.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told bilateral issues including border management and Rohingya refugee would be discussed.

Tensions in Myanmar's Rakhine province that forces thousands of Muslim Rohingyas to flee into Bangladesh is the main irritant of Dhaka-Naypyidaw relations.

Myanmar does not acknowledge them as its citizens.

However, the foreign minister on Tuesday at a discussion on ‘blue economy’ said they were trying to remove thaws in relations.

“It’s a continuous process,” he said, adding that Myanmar is an “important partner” of Bangladesh in the international collaboration.

He cited the regional grouping BIMSTEC – the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation – which has both Bangladesh and Myanmar as members.

The minister said talks on the proposed economic corridor under the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) were underway.

“We are planning railway links from Chittagong to Kunming through Myanmar,” he said.

Different stakeholders at the Tuesday meeting also suggested that the government form “a partnership alliance” with India and Myanmar for exploiting marine resources in the Bay of Bengal, particularly after the settlement of maritime boundary dispute.

The Foreign Office Consultations was rescheduled from June 18.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul haque earlier said Naypyidaw responded positively to Dhaka’s proposal to have “security dialogue” to discuss “the problems in the bordering area”.

An official who has knowledge of the consultation said the proposal would be discussed in the meeting.

Once agreed, both sides would sit for talks at a later date on any issues, the official said.

The meeting would discuss holding regular meetings between the chiefs of the two border guards like those between BGB and India’s BSF.

They will also discuss building regular communication mechanism with the civil administrations of the border districts on both sides.

Talks on renewing a cultural exchange agreement which expired two years ago will take place apart from a draft agreement on protection and promotion of investments.

“Basically we are ready to do everything to address trust deficit and enhance co-operation engagements,” the official said.

He said Bangladesh had already addressed Myanmar’s security concerns.

The border guards conducted raids on locations that Myanmar suspected to be hideouts of its rebels.

Myanmar provided the government a list of the locations upon Bangladesh’s request.

Bangladesh also conveyed its “zero tolerance” against terrorism and extremism for regional as well as international security.

A seven-member delegation is expected to join the consultation meeting, according to the foreign ministry.

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