Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No headway in Burma-Bangla bilateral maritime parleys

by Salai Pi Pi
Mizzima News
17 November 2008

The two-day bilateral delimitation talks between Burma and Bangladesh over the disputed maritime boundary, held in Dakha, capital of Bangladesh, failed to make any headway, according to a Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Ministry official.

"The talk was fruitful but there was no consensus on the methodology for delimitation of territorial water boundary," a Bangladesh official talked Mizzima over telephone.

Since the delegations from the two countries' could not agree on a methodology in demarcating the maritime boundary, the next bilateral meet is scheduled to be held in Rangoon in the New Year.

"It was a part of series of meeting. The talks will continue. The next meeting will be held in Rangoon in January," a Bangladeshi official said.

The talk between the technical committees of the two countries followed in the wake of Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win meeting Bangladesh's Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury on the sidelines of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Corporation (BIMSTEC) meeting held in New Delhi between November 11 and 13.

The Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint who led nine delegates, discussed with their technical counterparts from Bangladesh on setting up a methodology that will be applicable for delimitation of the disputed maritime boundary.

On the first day of talks, delegates from both sides' differed on the methodology for delimitation of the sea boundary. At the second round today, no concrete resolution evolved.

"They fundamentally agreed on the demarcation of the boundary but they were still arguing on how to do it," said an editor of Bangladesh newspaper today.

Burma proposed the equi distance method for delimitation of maritime boundary but Bangladesh preferred a method on the basis of equity.

"Burma proposed a method that would give more areas to them that Bangladesh did not agree to. Bangladesh also came up with another method that Burma did not agree to," the editor added.

The tension between two countries over the sea border was triggered early this month after Burma sent two of its naval ships to escort Daewoo vessels in its gas and oil exploration work in block AD-7 in the Bay of Bengal that Bangladesh claimed was in its territorial waters.

Bangladesh protested immediately against the move by Burma and despatched its naval ships to AD – 7 areas and sent a high level delegation to Rangoon for a diplomatic resolution.

However, Burma rejected the claim of Bangladesh and vowed to continue its work in AD-7.

The withdrawal of Burmese war ships followed Daewoo putting a halt to gas drilling and removing its rigs.

So far, there is no sign of the two countries scaling down their security forces along the land border, according to a Burmese journalist on the Burma-Bangladesh border.

"Burmese soldiers are still stationed in all border trade stations across the border. The villagers were forced to build bunkers in the stations," the Burmese journalist said.

Bangladesh security forces had also taken up position at the deserted stations on the Bangladesh side, he added.

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