Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to compromise on sea boundary dispute

January 9th, 2010 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 9 (DPA) Bangladesh and Myanmar Saturday agreed to compromise to resolve a long-standing maritime border dispute in the Bay of Bengal, officials said.
The lack of a clear boundary has caused tensions between the two neighbours over offshore hydrocarbon exploration in the bay in 2008.

“We have decided to demarcate maritime boundary in a process combining the principle of equity and principle of equal distance,” Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Khurshid Alam told reporters at the end of a two-day talks between Dhaka and Yangon over sea boundary demarcation.

A technical team comprising maritime experts will finalise the process, he said - with their conclusions discussed in the next round of talks to be held sometime in April this year in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Deputy Foreign Minister U. Maung Myint, who led a 13-member delegation at the discussion, termed the meeting fruitful.

“We all are happy with the discussion and hopeful to resolve the matter through bilateral talks,” he said, adding the long-standing gap between both the countries has been narrowed down significantly.

The row has seen Bangladesh emphasise demarcation of the territorial waters on the principle of equity while Myanmar pressed for demarcation on principle of equidistance.

This was the first meeting since Bangladesh called on the UN Arbitration Court in October last year to resolve the dispute.

Bangladesh, however, also kept open the option of bilateral discussions to settle the disputes.

Myanmar and Bangladesh resumed talks on maritime boundary demarcation in 2008 after a gap of 22 years, but failed to resolve the dispute.

Their earlier dialogue took place against the backdrop of warship manoeuvres in the Bay of Bengal by both countries, following Myanmar’s alleged intrusion into Bangladesh’s territorial waters for oil and gas exploration.

The tension was defused through diplomatic efforts initiated by Dhaka as both sides agreed that neither of the sides would pursue oil and gas exploration in the disputed areas of the mineral-rich bay until their boundaries are demarcated according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Bangladesh, India and Myanmar cannot exploit the full benefits of their oil and gas reserves in the Bay due to claims and counter-claims to the offshore gas blocks.

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