Situation in Myanmar getting worse day by day: Bangladesh FM Hasan Mahmud
Doval was the first senior Indian official to met Mahmud on his maiden visit to India after being made FM following PM Sheikh Hasina’s victory in last month’s general election
New Delhi: The worsening security situation in Myanmar figured in a meeting on Wednesday between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and visiting Bangladesh foreign minister Hasan Mahmud, who said developments in the neighbouring country were a “worrying factor” for Dhaka and New Delhi.
Doval was the first senior Indian official to met Mahmud, who is on his maiden visit to India after being made foreign minister following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s victory in last month’s general election.
Jaishankar and Mahmud, during their meeting, reviewed progress in a wide range of areas in bilateral ties, including cross-border connectivity, economic and development partnership, defence and security cooperation, power, energy and water resources, the external affairs ministry later said in a statement. They discussed areas of future engagement in line with the national development goals of the two countries and exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues. They expressed their commitment to enhance sub-regional cooperation within forums such as BIMSTEC, IORA and BBIN, the statement said.
Mahmud said he discussed developments in Myanmar with Doval at their meeting on Wednesday morning. The situation in Myanmar, he told reporters at the Press Club of India, is “getting worse day by day”.
“The situation in Myanmar is a worrying factor for both countries because we share a border with Myanmar. We discussed the issue with the NSA because for regional peace and stability, it is important that peace prevails in Myanmar,” Mahmud said.
As of Wednesday, Bangladesh has given shelter to 338 people from Myanmar, most of them border security guards and army personnel who entered the country to escape fighting between government troops and resistance forces opposed to the junta.
“We have given them shelter. We are in consultations with [Myanmar] to say that they take them back. Our ambassador in Myanmar has met with the foreign minister of Myanmar and they have agreed to take them back. How they will take them back – through a ship or by air – that is a question of discussion,” Mahmud said.
Myanmar’s junta has suffered a string of defeats since three powerful armed ethnic groups launched a military offensive last October. These groups have captured key towns and border trade posts on the borders with India and Bangladesh. One of the groups – the Arakan Army – has seized some 170 military posts and Minbya and Pauktaw towns in Rakhine state and Paletwa in Chin state.
This has led to Myanmar citizens fleeing to India and Bangladesh to flee the fighting. Thousands of Myanmar nationals have taken refuge in Manipur and Mizoram, and the Indian side has repatriated more than 500 Myanmar troops who entered the country.
Mahmud, a veteran Awami League leader who replaced AK Abdul Momen as the foreign minister, said he will continue his predecessor’s work to forge closer ties between India and Bangladesh, especially in trade and connectivity.
“This is a continuation of the same government. I was in the last government also, and only my portfolio has changed. I shall follow the same path that has been followed in the past,” he said. He listed connectivity as one of the main focus areas, saying it is important for the prosperity of both countries and the region.
“Regional peace and stability, economic cooperation, business ties, and people-to-people contacts are also important,” he said, adding that the India-Bangladesh relationship has been strengthened and taken to new heights over the past 10-15 years.
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