KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia said on Sunday that its foreign minister would meet his Indonesian and Thai counterparts to discuss the surge in stricken boat people from Bangladesh and Myanmar flooding to South-east Asia.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was to meet Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu on Monday, a government official said.
That would be followed by separate talks between Mr Anifah and Thai Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn later in the week, “most probably on Wednesday”.The official declined further comment, but confirmed the meetings were called in response to the migrant crisis.Nearly 3,000 migrants have been rescued or swum to shore in the three countries over the past week.Activists say thousands more are feared to be drifting at sea in rickety boats after a Thai crackdown on human-trafficking disrupted busy smuggling routes to Southeast Asia.The three nations have come under mounting international pressure to allow boats to land after vessels overloaded with hundreds of starving and exhausted migrants were turned away.The arrivals from Muslim Bangladesh are believed to be mainly economic migrants seeking to escape their country’s grinding poverty, while those from Myanmar are predominantly members of that country’s repressed Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority.
Earlier, state media had said that Malaysia's foreign minister would meet his Bangladeshi counterpart on Sunday to discuss the crisis. "It is one of the topics and a very important issue in the agenda," Mr Anifah was quoted saying in a brief dispatch by Malaysia's official news agency Bernama.
The meeting with Bangladesh's Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali will take place in the city of Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island.