Bangladesh alerts border forces over gas row with Myanmar

November 8th, 2008 - 11:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 8 (DPA) Reported troop movement near the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, apparently resulting from a disagreement over offshore oil and gas rights, has ramped up tension in the area.Border forces along the Bangladeshi border with Myanmar’s Rakhain state were put on red alert Saturday after reports of troop deployment by Myanmar on the border.

The move comes after talks between the two nations over disputed offshore oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal ended inconclusively Thursday. Those talks, in turn, started after Myanmar set up oil and gas exploration and deployed warships alongside civil installations last week on a stretch of the sea claimed by both countries.

The talks may resume in Dhaka in mid-November.

Bangladeshi residents of the border area were asked to remain alert and take appropriate action whenever needed.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury reiterated Dhaka’s calls for a peaceful solution.

“But we will take every possible steps to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity if needed,” Chowdhury said, calling upon the Myanmar authorities to withdraw from the disputed area.

On Nov 3, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka to protest Myanmar’s alleged intrusion into Bangladesh’s territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal. Dhaka called upon Yangon to immediately withdraw its ships and stop exploration until the maritime boundary dispute was resolved.

Myanmar has dismissed Bangladesh’s claims to the area and vowed to continue exploration. Bangladesh has said it continues to seek a “peaceful solution” but has also deployed naval vessels to the area.

Chowdhury said South Korea’s Daewoo International Corp, which was drilling for oil and gas in the Bay waters, earlier told the Bangladeshi authorities that they had suspended their work and would start removing their equipment.

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