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Bangladesh-Myanmar talks begin amid high hopes of Rohingya repatriation

Over 620,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border and taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar district since August 25.

Bangladesh and Myanmar has began their long-sought two-day talks with high hopes that it will yield outcomes to sign an MoU enabling both the countries to start the repatriation process of all the Rohingyas from Bangladesh to their homeland Myanmar.

The international community is also watching the talks and its subsequent outcome as they want to see the safe and dignified return of the Rohingyas as quickly as possible.

The talks between senior officials of the two countries began on Wednesday with Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque leading the Bangladesh delegation.

Bangladesh Ambassador in Yangon M Sufiur Rahman, officials from the Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office are also attending in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali in the morning ahead of Senior Officials meeting said he is hopeful about positive outcome of the meeting. “Let’s see.”

After lunch, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s Minister for State Counsellor’s Office Kyauw Tint Swe will hold the second round of meeting.

On Thursday, the Foreign Minister will hold the final meeting with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar’s administrative capital.

The meeting is primarily focusing on formation of a joint working group and related terms and conditions for it for the smooth operations of the repatriation process.

Bangladesh is likely to seek a timeframe over completion of Rohingyas repatriation, a senior official told UNB.

“If things go well at the meeting, both sides will sign the MoU on Thursday,” said the official adding that the two sides will minimise gap addressing differences, if any.

Bangladesh wants the involvement of the international community, including the UN in verification process which is yet to be accepted by Myanmar side.

Amid mounting international pressure, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said they have planned to sign an MoU with Bangladesh this week which will enable them to start the repatriation process of all the Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

“What we’re trying to do is to sign an MoU that will enable us to start the repatriation of all those refugees who’ve gone over the border,” she told a crowded press conference at Myanmar International Convention Centre here.

Suu Kyi, however, said restoring peace and stability in the troubled Rakhine State will not be possible overnight. “Nothing can be done overnight. But, we believe we’ll be able to make a steady progress.”

She said the Asian and European countries are keen to help Myanmar in its efforts to bring about peace and stability in Rakhine as quickly as possible.

Bangladesh is in talks with Myanmar bilaterally apart from international engagement on the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh in the past months.

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