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New line of communication with Myanmar to open, Momen says

  • Published at 12:24 am November 28th, 2019
Bangladesh Army chief Gen Aziz Ahmed
Chief of Army Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed speaks with reporters in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday, November 25, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Foreign minister optimistic about Bangladesh Army chief’s visit to the neighbouring country

Welcoming the upcoming visit of Bangladesh Army chief Gen Aziz Ahmed to Myanmar, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the visit would be good for the country, as it will open a new line of negotiation in respect of the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

“(The visit) will not go against us. It will go in our favour. Myanmar is not our enemy. It is our friend,” the foreign minister said on Wednesday, when asked at a press conference if the army chief’s visit to Myanmar would go against Bangladesh as their military chief and other senior officers are accused of atrocities.

The press briefing, organized at the state guest house Padma, was on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's participation at the 25th UN Climate Change Conference, to be held in Madrid, Spain next month. 

The prime minister will leave Dhaka for Madrid on December 1, and leave Madrid for Dhaka on December 3. 

The foreign minister said: “We want to resolve problems through negotiations. It is Myanmar that has created the Rohingya crisis; its solution also depends on Myanmar. We are conducting our activities in different ways so that the Rohingya people can go back home and live in a dignified manner.

“You know that the army plays a very important role in Myanmar. Under such circumstances, if our army chief visits the country, it will be good for us. And through this, another line of negotiation will open. We welcome this,” he added.

Gen Aziz Ahmed recently said in Cox’s Bazar that he would visit Myanmar next month, during which issues related to improving the relationship between the two countries are to be discussed. 

Many issues will come up and there may be a discussion on the Rohingya issue, he added.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Dr Momen criticized Myanmar for its blatant lies about Bangladesh’s readiness to begin the Rohingya repatriation.

“We are always ready whenever they are ready (to begin repatriation),” he said, expressing optimism that the Rohingya problem would be solved soon through negotiations. 

Asked if the process of relocating Rohingyas to Bhashan Char has been halted, the foreign minister said: “The process has not stopped. Relocation to Bhashan Char is a temporary arrangement. As there are so many people in the camps who are vulnerable to landslides and deaths, we want to relocate 100,000 people to the island for their betterment and safety.

“If they go, it is good. We are not taking anyone by force,” he added.