Over 620,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border and taken shelter in Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh since August 25
Bangladesh and Myanmar are expected to sign an agreement on Thursday on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees who have fled the recent violence in Rakhine state.
The development follows a marathon meeting in Naypyidaw between Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar Minister for State Counsellor’s Office Kyauw Tint Swe.
“We had a good discussion today [and] we hope to sign the deal tomorrow [Thursday],” Mahmood Ali told journalists.
Soon after the lengthy one-to-one meeting, Mahmood Ali attended the ministerial meeting titled “Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State”.
Another lengthy meeting of senior officials was held at the same venue.
Also in attendance were Bangladesh Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, Bangladesh Ambassador in Yangon M Sufiur Rahman, and representatives from Bangladesh Home Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Mahmood Ali 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 Rohingyas from Bangladesh to their homeland in northern Myanmar.
The international community including the European Union is also watching the talks and their subsequent outcome as they want to see the safe and dignified return of the Rohingya refugees as quickly as possible.
“Conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return to their places of origin have to be put in place,” said the high representative of the EU in a declaration on Myanmar.
Bangladesh is likely to seek a timeframe over the completion of Rohingya repatriation, a senior official said.
“If things go well at the meeting, both sides will sign the MoU on Thursday,” said the official, adding that the two sides hope to bridge the gap between their respective positions.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali had stayed on in Myanmar after leading the Bangladesh delegation at the ASEM foreign ministers’ meeting on November 20-21.
Bangladesh wants the involvement of the international community – including the UN – in the verification process, but this is yet to be accepted by Myanmar.
Amid mounting international pressure, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said she hoped the talks would be successful.
“What we are 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.
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.
Over 620,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border and taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar district since August 25.