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BD, Myanmar likely to sign MoU on Rohingya repatriation Thursday

Bangladesh and Myanmar are expected to sign an ‘Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’ on Thursday.

“We had a good discussion today (Wednesday). We hope to sign the deal tomorrow (Thursday),” Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told UNB at hotel lobby after a meeting with Myanmar’s Minister for State Counsellor’s office Kyauw Tint Swe.

The two ministers led their respective sides at the meeting that started at 5:10pm and ended at 6:20pm (local time), UNB reported.

Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, Bangladesh Ambassador in Yangon M Sufiur Rahman and representatives from Home Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office also attended the meeting.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister and the Myanmar’s Minister for State Counsellor’s office had a marathon meeting when they discussed various issues of bilateral interest, including Rohingya issue.

Soon after the one-to-one lengthy meeting, the Foreign Minister attended the ministerial meeting on ‘Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’.

Another lengthy meeting of senior officials was held at the same venue.

The Foreign Minister will hold the final talks with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday.

Bangladesh and Myanmar on Wednesday 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.

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 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.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali who led the Bangladesh delegation at the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ overstayed here to further discuss the repatriation process with Myanmar leaders on Wednesday and Thursday.

European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini has expressed her hope that Bangladesh and Myanmar will reach a decision to sign an MoU and an agreement on safe repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.

She said the EU is supporting this process and will stand ready to accompany this process in the coming week.

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

Meanwhile, the European Union has called for steps to ensure voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to their places of origin in Rakhine State.

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