Narinjara news

Dhaka, Rangoon open border talks after 10 years

Dhaka, 21 May 03: Bangladesh and Burma on Tuesday opened their first border talks in 10 years and agreed to take steps against weapons smuggling, according to today the Independent quote from Bangladesh officials.

The tree-day meeting in Bangladeshs capital Dhaka was also focussing on problems faced by Bangladeshi fishermen in the Bay of Bengal, the officials said here.

We have agreed to ensure to stop smuggling of weapons, Major General Mohammad Jahangir Alam chowdhury, chief of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), told reporters.

We dont know its source, but we will work against such activities, he said.

The border talks, the first between the countries since a round in Rangoon in 1993, comes after a visit to Burma in March by Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and a trip here last year by Burmas junta leader Senior General Than Shwe.

The visiting delegation is headed by U Maung Htay, director general of Burmas immigration department, while the 12- member Bangladesh team is head by Mohammad Alam Chowdhury.

The Burma team is to tour the northeastern tea-growing Sylhet district Wednesday.

Bangladesh and Burma share about 300 kilometres (186 miles) of border, including around 100 kilometres (62 miles) in the Bay of Bengal.

The two countries engaged in border standoffs in 1991 and 2001 and relations were strained in the early 1990s when around 250,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims flooded into Bangladesh from Burma, claiming atrocities by the Burmese junta.

Ties have improved since then, with the repatriation of most of the refugees under a United Nations agreement, but more than 20,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh.

Home secretary Omar Faruq told reporters Tuesday that the process to repatriate 11,500 of the refugees this month was underway.

Than Shwe was the first leader of Burmas junta to visit Bangladesh since 1988 coup in Rangoon.#