Narinjara news


Burma Bangladesh on a new course: Improved relations and road link


(Burmese junta happy on the measures taken by Bangladesh on separatists)


Dhaka, 18th December:  Burma and Bangladesh have agreed to establish road links at a prime ministerial level talk held yesterday.  The two countries would sponsor two technical and financial taskforces to conduct feasibility studies on the Dhaka to Rangoon road link shortly, reported the local press.  The Burmese leader said that Burma is ready for the establishment of road links.


Prime minister of Burma and chairman of State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) junta senior general Than Shwe arrived at Dhaka Tuesday morning on a two-day state visit as the head of a 55 member delegation.  He was given a warm reception by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia at the Zia International airport.  Burmese junta leader was given a red carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute on his arrival.


Just before the official dialogue, the two leaders had a twenty minute long informal discussion at the Prime Minister’s Office.  Present in the occasion were Foreign Minister and the chief secretary.


An agreement was reached when the Bangladesh side formally proposed for establishment of road links between the two countries in the bilateral talked.  Both sides agreed to set off two task forces in this regard.


On repatriation of Rohingya refugees the Burmese side expressed their determination to take all of them back through bilateral and normal course within a short time. 


Besides road link the two sides also agreed on coastal shipping agreement, stepping up border trade and easier visa procedures for the business community and doing away with the double-taxation that sometimes pose obstacles to smooth trade between the two countries.  They also agreed to set up a joint business council.


In the light of the success of a Bangladeshi Trade Fair in Rangoon, Burma announced to hold a Burmese trade fair in Dhaka. 


On including Bangladesh as a dialogue partner of ASEAN, Burma ensured that it not only supports the proposition but also would like to discuss with the other members of the regional forum on this regard. 


Agreement was also reached on improved bilateral trade.  At the end of the official talks, foreign ministers of the two countries signed deals on two agreements: that the foreign ministers of the two countries would officially meet at least once a year to discuss bilateral issues in the two capitals, and that there would be promotion in the fields including arts, culture, scientific research, media and tourism development.


The Burmese junta leader reached Dhaka on a two-day official visit at 10.40 am.  Four air force fighter planes guarded the specially chartered plane carrying the guests.  Bangladeshi prime minister welcomed the distinguished guests at the VVIP tarmac.  A smartly turned out contingent of members of the air force, armed force and navy gave a guard of honour to the prime ministers.


Among the 55 member delegation are the wife of the Burmese junta leader, two daughters, secretary 1 of SPDC junta, and other higher officials.  From the airport the Burmese delegation went to the National Mausoleum at Savar Nabinagar and paid homage to the martyrs of the liberation war of Bangladesh.  The junta leader also planted a medicinal plant there. He attended a banquet at Bangabhavan hosted by the Bangladeshi prime minister.


In the evening the two heads of state held a formal bilateral talk at the Prime Minister’s Office.  At a press conference held later in the office of the foreign minister the foreign secretary Shamser Mabin Chowdhury said that the talks was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere.  The visit, he hoped, would strengthen the historical and friendly relations of the two countries.


The secretary said that Madame Zia remembered the state visit of the late Bangladeshi president Ziaur Rahman, her deceased husband, in July 1977.  The Burmese leader remembered the late president with a deep sense of honour and mentioned him as a great leader in the region.  This was the first official visit of a high-ranking leader of Burma in the last sixteen years.  The Burmese leader gave assurance to keep “Burma’s door” always open to the bilateral trade, and increased trade and economic activities with Bangladesh.


The Bangladeshi Prime Minister proposed poverty alleviation, development, rule of law, establishment of a corruption-free society and other related fields of development.  She also stressed on her government’s deep commitment to develop friendly relations with the neighbours and the world at large.  She said that the trade has made headway, but there was a need for changing the accounting system for the trade.  She   also requested for extending visa to the Bangladeshi businessmen for up to six months and to facilitate travelling up to Sittwe with a border pass. 


The Burmese leader also said that his government is firmly resolved to establish democracy.  He also mentioned about the presence of an interim arrangement in this regard.  He expressed his satisfaction at the measures taken by the Bangladeshi government concerning the (Burmese) separatists and thanked her for the measures taken. 


To the proposal of the repatriation of the Rohingyas he agreed to take measures to repatriate them soon through agreement by discussion.  At the end the prime minister of Bangladesh accepted the invitation of the Burmese junta leader to visit Burma. 


Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh to a question said that most of the Rohingya refugees have returned while the rest few would be soon repatriated through bilateral discussions between the two countries.  But he did not mention any time frame for when would the repatriation take place.  He also assured that the Burmese side have given clearance for five thousand Rohingya refugees out of the 22,000 remaining in the camps.


To another question he said that the proposed road link with Burma is not related to the Asian Highway.  But he said that Bangladesh wants to get linked with ASEAN by establishing road links with Burma. 


Bangladesh hoped to benefit from the proposed road link as it would open up trade up to the ASEAN countries and China through Burma.


For repatriation of Bangladeshi prisoners in Burma he said that, there were four prisoners there while two have already been repatriated. 


The Burmese junta leader would call on the President of Bangladesh, Iaz Uddin Ahmed, this afternoon and join a lunch party hosted in his honour.  Besides this the trade ministers of the two countries will meet today.  The Burmese prime minister leaves for home this evening.  #