Dhaka – New Delhi has assured Dhaka of continued support for safe return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar nearly a year and a half ago.
New Delhi’s assurance came at the 5th India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission meeting held between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Kalam Abdul Momen in the Indian capital.
Both sides at the meeting decided to develop a forward looking roadmap for bilateral cooperation to make the partnership irreversible.
The JCC meeting came month after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office for the third straight tenure after the December 30 election. Momen, who was made the foreign minister in Hasina’s cabinet, made his maiden overseas trip to India apparently to give importance to the next-door neighbor.
According to state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency, Bangladesh and India agreed on the need to expedite safe and sustainable repatriation of the displaced people from Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Bangladesh has been facing immense pressure after more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims entered Bangladesh after Myanmar military launched crackdown on suspected insurgents in Rakhine state in August 2017.
Dhaka has been expecting New Delhi’s enhanced assistance to repatriate the refugees ever since Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to return the Rohingya to their land. Myanmar has apparently been playing a dilly-dally tactic to create an atmosphere to take the Rohingya back.
Appreciating Bangladesh for the humanitarian gesture in supporting the displaced persons from the Rakhine, Indian external affairs minister assured that they would assist for safe, speedy and sustainable return of the refugees.
The two sides reviewed ongoing cooperation including the implementation of decisions taken during the visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as well as at the last meeting of JCC in October 2017, in Dhaka.
“Foreign Minister Momen requested for water sharing of all common rivers including early resolution of the Teesta water sharing. The Indian External Affairs Minister assured that they would work for early conclusion of Teesta water sharing agreement.”
The entire gamut of bilateral issues of mutual interest also came up for discussion in the meeting, the statement said.
They also viewed that both countries are working closer than ever before in every sector, from security and border management to mutually-beneficial trade and investment flows, power and energy, river water sharing, development partnership, transport connectivity, culture, people-to-people contacts.
They welcomed the fact that the relationship was now broadening to include new and high technology areas for partnership, such as space, nuclear energy, IT and electronics.