The deteriorating security situation in Myanmar is “worrying” for both India and Bangladesh as it could impact regional peace and stability, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud said on Wednesday hours after holding talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Mahmud said the issue figured in his meeting with Doval and that 338 Myanmarese people, mostly belonging to Border Security Guard of Myanmar and Army personnel entered Bangladesh following the escalation of the situation in the Rakhine state.
India on Tuesday asked its citizens in the Rakhine state to leave the troubled-region immediately in view of deteriorating security situation. Mahmud is on a four-day visit to India from Tuesday, in his first bilateral foreign trip since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power for a fifth term after a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections last month.
In a brief interaction with the media, the Bangladesh foreign minister said India-Bangladesh relationship has witnessed a major upswing in the last 10-15 years and he would focus on taking it to a new height. Mahmud is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar this evening. “We discussed the situation in Myanmar because the situation in that country is getting worse day-by-day,” Mahmud said on his meeting with Doval. “Until this morning, 338 people, mostly border security guards and Army personnel, had entered Bangladesh. We have given shelter to them,” he said.
Mahmud said Myanmar has agreed to take back the people and that the issue was taken up by Bangladesh’s envoy to Naypyidaw has already met with the Myanmarese foreign minister. “The situation in Myanmar is a worrying factor for both the countries (India and Bangladesh) because both of us share a border with Myanmar. We discussed the issue with the NSA Doval because for regional peace and stability, it is important that peace prevails in Myanmar,” he said.
Myanmar has been witnessing widespread violent protests demanding restoration of democracy since the military seized power in the coup on February 1, 2021. Rakhine state and many other regions have reported severe fighting between armed ethnic groups and the Myanmarese military since October last year. The hostilities between the two sides saw a rapid spike since November in several key Myanmarese towns and regions near the border with India as well fuelling concerns in New Delhi over the possible ramifications for security of Manipur and Mizoram.
On India-Bangladesh ties, Mahmud said as the Bangladesh foreign minister, he would aim to expand the ties further in areas of connectivity, trade, business and people-to-people exchanges. “Over the last 10-15 years’ time, the relationship between India and Bangladesh has been strengthened, he said. Our effort would be to take the relationship to new heights, he added. Mahmud said connectivity is one of the priority areas as it is important for both the countries. “It is important for the prosperity of the region as a whole, for regional peace and stability and economic cooperation,” he said.
Asked about Dhaka building a memorial to honour the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 and whether Bangladesh would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to its inauguration, Mahmud said: “We would be very very delighted if he can pay a visit to the country. To another query, the Bangladesh foreign minister said the dates for a possible visit to India by Hasina are yet to be finalised.