Dhaka to protest Yangon’s maritime stand in Bay of Bengal

June 25th, 2009 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 25 (IANS) Bangladesh is set to protest to the UN against Myanmar’s claim to the territorial sea in the Bay of Bengal, where maritime boundaries have caused disputes and led to stand-offs.
Foreign ministry officials told New Age newspaper Wednesday that Dhaka may send in its protest even before the next round of technical discussions with Yangon in mid-July.

Bangladesh is sandwiched between India and Myanmar and the UN has set a deadline for the three neighbours to submit their claims by this year-end.

Apart from finalising its stance against Myanmar’s claim, Dhaka is also preparing to protest Yangon’s claim to a part of the Bay’s continental shelf.

Due to the funnel-like shape of the Bay of Bengal, the claims of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar have apparently overlapped on the issue of the ’starting point’ on how to mark the exclusive economic zone from the coastline.

Though India, Myanmar and Bangladesh have not demarcated their waters, Delhi and Yangon have agreed on an ‘equidistant’ boundary allowing them to explore gas in the Bay of Bengal.

Dhaka last year challenged survey ships from India and Myanmar claiming they were on Bangladeshi territory, causing diplomatic stand-offs.

“Bangladesh is preparing its case for gas exploration, but has not been able to invite tenders for block-bidding as the maritime boundary has not been demarcated,” the newspaper said.

Dhaka revived talks on maritime boundary delineation with New Delhi and Yangon last year after a gap of 28 years. But the talks have been non-starters in that the three neighbours have stated their respective positions with no conciliatory movement in sight.

The varying claims are expected to be settled by the UN.

The issue of maritime boundary delineation came up in the early 1970s with prospects of gas and oil in the high seas and off-shore explorations. They have gained greater urgency in the recent years.

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