Rohingya crisis

UN's move could harm repatriation talks: Myanmar

YANGON • Myanmar said yesterday that a United Nations Security Council statement on the Rohingya refugee crisis could "seriously harm" its talks with Bangladesh over repatriating more than 600,000 people who have fled there to escape a Myanmar military crackdown.

The Security Council had urged Myanmar, in a statement on Monday, to "ensure no further excessive use of military force" and had expressed "grave concern over reports of human rights violations and abuses in Rakhine State".

Responding, Myanmar's de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, whose less than two-year-old civilian administration shares power with the military, said the issues facing Myanmar and Bangladesh could only be resolved bilaterally, a point she said was ignored in the Security Council statement.

"Furthermore, the (Security Council) Presidential Statement could potentially and seriously harm the bilateral negotiations between the two countries which have been proceeding smoothly and expeditiously," Ms Suu Kyi's office said in a statement.

Negotiations with Bangladesh were ongoing, it said, and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali had been invited to visit Myanmar from Nov 16 to 17.

Bangladeshi officials said, however, that the minister's visit was likely to take place at a later date.

A sour note was struck over the talks last week, after Ms Suu Kyi's spokesman cast suspicion that Bangladesh might drag its feet over the repatriation process in order to first secure hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid.

Speaking at a conference in Dhaka on Sunday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for more international pressure on Myanmar.

"I would request all of you to discuss Rohingya issue with utmost priority and exert pressure on the Myanmar government to stop the persecution of its citizens and take them back at the earliest," she said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2017, with the headline 'UN's move could harm repatriation talks: Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe