Bangladesh, Myanmar to cooperate against border crimes
Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to cooperate against smuggling, terrorism and illegal border crossing, Bangladeshi police announced on Wednesday.
In the aftermath of a five-day meeting between Bangladeshi and Myanmar security forces, the sides came to a decision to prioritize combatting border terrorism, drug trafficking -- including caffeine and methamphetamine tablets -- and gunfire in border areas, according to a statement by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).
The two countries also agreed on prisoner swaps and joint border patrols during the meeting held in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw and slated to close on Wednesday.
The neighbors are currently going through a diplomatic tussle over the repatriation of more than one million Rohingya refugees living in congested makeshift camps in southern Bangladesh where they fled en masse from a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state beginning Aug. 25, 2017.
In a meeting in Washington on April 8, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abdul Momen urged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to put "credible international pressure" on Myanmar for the return of Rohingya in safety and dignity to the country with full citizenship rights.
Dhaka also accuses Myanmar authorities of failing to cooperate in efforts to fulfill a 2017 deal on the peaceful repatriation of the group.
Tensions also rose over Myanmar's inclusion of a tourist-hub remote islet, Saint Martin's Island, as part of its territorial government map at least twice in last six months.
In the wake of Bangladesh's strong protest, Myanmar authorities removed the island from their official website, clarifying that it was done mistakenly.
Amid such tensions, Bangladesh deployed heavy border forces for the first time in more than two decades on the island which lies near the near Myanmar border once again after 22 years on April 7.
"Either consciously or mistakenly, Myanmar has claimed the island as their territory, so it's our normal duty to boost up security there," Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Bangladesh's home minister, told Anadolu Agency.