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Thein Sein to visit Bangladesh

Burmese President Thein Sein is scheduled to visit Bangladesh on July 15 for three days to discuss closer ties in trade, border management and security affairs, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said, according to reports.

Burmese President Thein Sein presides over a meeting of government ministers. Photo: President's officeMyanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint and Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes will lead teams at consultation meetings prior to the visit.

Burma and Bangladesh share a serious border issue involving undocumented Rohingya refugees from Burma who have been fleeing to Bangladesh for the past month, seeking to escape sectarian violence in Burma’s Rakhine State.

Repatriation of undocumented workers is expected to be discussed in the talks. In early June, Bangladesh has closed its border to the refugees, and Burma denies Rohingya citizenship.

Thein Sein will hold talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Zillur Rahman, officials said, with a number of issues on the agenda including connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector, establishing direct road and air links, enhancing trade, cooperation in education and tourism, and the Rohingya issue.

“We are not interested in more people coming to Bangladesh,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told the media earlier this month, after it closed its border facing western Rakhine State in Burma. She said Bangladesh is a densely populated country and cannot afford a fresh influx.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled persecution in Burma in the past three decades, the vast majority to Bangladesh in the 1990s. Others have sought refuge in Malaysia and Thailand.

This month, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and a host of international countries called for Bangladesh to keep its border open.

The latest unrest flared after a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered by a group of Rohingya Muslim men on May 28, which set off revenge murders and the burning of thousands of homes and businesses.

President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in Rakhine State on June 10, imposing a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Under Burmese law, the Rohingya are stateless, while Bangladesh views them as illegal migrants. In Burma, Rohingya are called “Bengali.”

UNHCR said Rohingya in Bangladesh number more than 200,000, including more than 30,000 documented refugees living in two government-run camps.

Aid workers say there is no way of knowing how many Rohingya have managed to cross the border in the latest exodus because those who are successful seek safe hiding places.
Last Updated ( Monday, 25 June 2012 15:02 )  

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