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Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to discuss return of Rohingya

BANGLADESH, MYANMAR AGREE TO DISCUSS RETURN OF ROHINGYA

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed on a proposal to coordinate the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali said Monday.

Talking to reporters in the capital Dhaka after meeting Minister for Myanmar State Counselor Office Kyaw Tint Swe, Ali said: "The two sides have agreed to a proposal to set up a joint working group to coordinate the repatriation process [of Rohingya taking shelter in Bangladesh]".

Bangladesh has proposed a bilateral deal to complete the repatriation process.

Ali said: "The draft of the agreement has been handed over to them [Myanmar delegation]."

The minister said the two sides also discussed security cooperation.

He said Bangladesh's home minister will travel to Myanmar "very soon" since the country wants "to solve this problem peacefully".

Since Aug. 25, some 501,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, the UN said on Sept. 28.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes, and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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