Working-level meeting to be held soon, subject to Myanmar’s good intention
At the initiative of Beijing, the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China are scheduled for a meeting at the end of September, on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), to discuss the Rohingya crisis, and to find ways to begin the repatriation of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas sheltered in Cox’s Bazar, multiple diplomatic sources told Dhaka Tribune.
As a part of the preparation of that parley, a working-level meeting between these three countries is scheduled to take place in Dhaka soon, provided that Myanmar is prepared to cooperate, they further added.
China, which is a staunch backer of Myanmar, and always prefers a bilateral solution to the protracted crisis, appears to be serious to make a breakthrough with regards to the beginning of the repatriation. So it wants to hold a tripartite meeting between the three countries in New York.
Bangladesh and China are ready to hold the working-level meeting – which will fix the agenda of the New York meeting – any time, but it is Myanmar that has yet to respond to a Chinese communication.
“We [Bangladesh and China] are ready to hold the working-level meeting this week or next week. But, as usual, it is Myanmar who is yet to let us know when they are ready. China has written to them, and we are expecting their reply soon,” a senior diplomat said.
“Hopefully, Myanmar will show some good intention, and we will be able to hold the meeting soon,” he said.
About the seriousness of China, another diplomat said: “The presence of two diplomats from the Chinese embassy on August 22, the day of the second failed attempt for the repatriation, somewhat reflects their eagerness.
“They [China] might also feel a bit burdened, because it is widely believed that upon the insistence of Beijing, Dhaka had agreed to sign the bilateral deal with Naypyidaw. Besides, China does not want Rakhine to remain restive for a long time due to its own interest.”
Such a tripartite meeting was earlier held in 2018, during the 73rd session of the UNGA, when AH Mahmood Ali was the Bangladesh foreign minister.
According to diplomatic sources, there was very little progress since that meeting in relation to the repatriation, due to Myanmar’s failure to create a conducive environment for the return of the displaced people, who were driven away from their homes in Rakhine, using unprecedented barbarity by their security forces and neighbours.
About the possibility of any success during the meeting this time, they said that “it depends on how much pressure China is ready to apply on Myanmar.”
“We can only wait and see how much Myanmar is ready to do. But everyone knows that Myanmar is a difficult country to deal with,” said a diplomat.