Myanmar withdraws warships
Tension yet to die down as both countries mobilise troops on border
Myanmar withdrew its warships, the oil and gas exploration rig and the fossil fuel exploration vessels from Bangladesh waters yesterday but tension between the two countries still exists as both the nations mobilised more troops along their border.
"We want peaceful solution to the dispute not confrontation or war," Foreign Secretary Md Touhid Hossain told a press briefing at the foreign ministry yesterday. He said the Myanmar ships left the territory around yesterday noon.
Terming the action of Myanmar "unexpected" at a time when the two nations are enjoying good relations, Touhid hoped that the tension would diffuse gradually.
He said Dhaka would soon hand over detailed maps of its exclusive economic zones to Myanmar authorities so that Myanmar cannot resume fossil fuel exploration in Bangladesh territory.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh reinforced Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and Bangladesh Navy efforts with the deployment of Bangladesh Army troops on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border since Myanmar mobilised huge forces on the other side of the border.
Our correspondent in Cox's Bazar reports: Several thousand army personnel have been deployed at Narkel Bagan barrack of Ramu upazila around noon yesterday. A large convoy of troops was also on its way to the border with Myanmar from Chittagong.
Tension remains high at the border area as Myanmar mobilised more forces to its border with Bangladesh, said the correspondent quoting locals. In response, Bangladesh also beefed up its security measures.
Trade at Teknaf Land Port came to an almost halt yesterday due to the heightened tension between the two nations.
Touhid said during his recent trip to Myanmar, he made three proposals before Myanmar deputy ministers Maung Myint and Kyaw Thu to resolve the crisis.
The government had sent Touhid to Myanmar last week after Myanmar ships intruded into Bangladesh waters.
"Removal of the drilling rig as it was on Bangladesh waters, continuation of talks on maritime boundary issues and withdrawal of both countries' ships were the proposals I put forward," he said.
The foreign secretary said Myanmar had refused to pull back the drilling rig during the talks. "My counterparts told me that they would decide after discussing it with their superiors," he added.
Touhid said the Myanmar authorities claimed of exploring fossil fuel on the eastern side of the so-called friendship line between Bangladesh and Myanmar, which is incorrect.
Before Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent Touhid to Myanmar, it decided to confront the situation through a tri-nation diplomatic manoeuvre. Bangladesh had approached Myanmar's closest ally China and South Korea to put an end to the crisis.
"I had meetings with the ambassadors of China and South Korea in Dhaka and informed them of the situation clearing Bangladesh's position," he said, adding that he told the Chinese envoy that Bangladesh wants a peaceful solution to the problem.
The Korean envoy was, however, urged to ask Daewoo, the Korean company carrying out the exploration job for Myanmar, to pull out from the disputed territory.
He said the Korean envoy told him that the Korean exploration vessels would be removed.
The foreign secretary said despite the dispute in the Bay of Bengal, the scheduled bilateral talks between the two countries on maritime boundary issues would be held during November 16 and 17 in Dhaka.
"The talks will also cover construction of a road between the two neighbours," he added.
A correspondent in Bandarban reports: BDR reinforced its troops at the border between Naikkhangchhari upazila and Myanmar yesterday. The troops were deployed in response to the building up of Myanmar forces on the other side of the border.
Our staff correspondent in Chittagong reports: Bangladesh Army is prepared to face any untoward situation along Bangladesh's border with Myanmar. Sources said forces are ready to move towards Cox's Bazar if the situation demands.
Director General of BDR Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed is expected to visit the border areas today.
Myanmar ships started exploration activities 55km southwest of St Martin's Island on November 1, ignoring Bangladesh Navy warnings of trespassing.
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