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Saturday, August 30, 2014, Bhadra 15, 1421, Zilqad 3, 1435 Hijr

Consultation Meet With Myanmar Tomorrow
BD to pursue Myanmar in confidence buildingĀ 
Saleem Samad
Publish Date : 2014-08-30,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 188
Bangladesh will attempt to pursue Myanmar in confidence building process during the crucial Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) meeting on Sunday, foreign office source confirmed.
A seven-member Myanmar delegation led by U Thant Kyaw, Deputy Foreign Minister (status of Foreign Secretary) arrived in the capital on Thursday night on a five-day official visit to attend the eighth FOC between the two neighbouring countries at the foreign ministry. Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque will lead the 10-member Bangladesh delegation at the consultation.
For the crucial official talks on Sunday, an entire gamut of multi-disciplinary issues have been included in the agenda for dialogue with particular focus on Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) and security cooperation, said officials of the foreign ministry.
Dhaka will strongly emphasise on addressing issues related to the repatriation of Rohingya refugees along with undocumented Myanmar nationals living in the country, and smuggling of methamphetamines drugs (yaba tablets) into Bangladesh.
Bangladesh will ask Myanmar to take immediate action to repatriate the Myanmar nationals stranded in Bangladesh through dialogue which will include UNHCR.
The FOC will is expected to finalise establishment of a border liaison office, initiate a security dialogue, and the Myanmar's President Thein Shen state visit to Bangladesh.
Other issue in the agenda for discussion includes bilateral trade, coastal shipping, civil aviation, energy exploration, exploiting marine resources, multi-modal connectivity and natural gas export through pipeline.
The border demarcation of River Naf, which separates Bangladesh from Myanmar is likely to be raised at the meeting tomorrow, an official said.
Dhaka will discuss the issue of gas import from the Shwe Gas Field in Rakhine state during the official talks. Bangladesh is preparing to negotiate with other stakeholders like Myanmar, India, China and Daewoo of South Korea for importing gas, the official said.
The Myanmar delegation is touring the lush green hills of Sylhet region overlooking Meghalaya state and is expected to return to Dhaka today (Saturday).
The officials visited the Bangladesh-India international border and saw the issues of border conflict management and was briefed by Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) senior commanders, official sources told The Daily Observer.
The delegation visited a village at the international border and an Indian enclave in Bangladesh territory and was impressed by the border management. The Myanmar senior officials expressed their desire to implement the examples of Sylhet border management at Bangladesh-Myanmar porous border.
This is the 8th foreign secretary level talks, diplomatically termed foreign office consultation [FOC], between the two countries. The seventh FOC was held in Myanmar capital Naypyidaw (officially spelled Nay Pyi Taw) in April last year was led by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque. Saturday's FOC was rescheduled from June 18, source said.
Foreign Secretary told The Daily Observer that no agreements, protocols or MoU's will be signed. "FOC meeting is pushing unresolved issues through dialogue," he remarked.
The government proposed to hold at least one meeting every year where an additional secretary of the foreign ministry will head the Bangladesh delegation.
Tensions in Myanmar's Rakhine province forced thousands of Muslim Rohingyas to flee into Bangladesh which is the main irritant in Dhaka-Naypyidaw relations. Regrettably, Myanmar does not acknowledge them as its citizens, lamented a senior foreign official.
Recently the parliamentary committee attached to the foreign ministry identified 'mutual lack of trust' as the key deterrent preventing solutions to disputes between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Committee member Faruk Khan, a former commerce and civil aviation minister told reporters, "Lack of trust is the key deterrent to development of bilateral relations with Myanmar. That's why the committee advised the ministry to take steps to enhance mutual trust as the disputes with the neighbour were pending for long."
Dhaka is well aware about the human rights situation in Rakhine state but Bangladesh is a small country and it cannot allow Myanmar nationals to be pushed into its territory, said the senior foreign ministry official.
An estimated 30,000 documented Myanmar nationals are located in two international refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and another 3 lakh to 5 lakh undocumented Myanmar nationals are living inside Bangladesh.
The FOC will discuss Bangladesh proposal for construction of 25 kilometres road to connect Taungbro to Bawalibazar which will enable to establish a corridor from Kunming to Kolkata, linking Mandalay in Myanmar as well as Dhaka and Chittagong.
Myanmar is yet to response to the proposal.
Lastly, Dhaka will also seek Nay Pyi Taw's support for Bangladesh's candidature for UN Human Rights Commission election scheduled in October.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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