Tension along Bangladesh, Myanmar border, China counsels talks

November 9th, 2008 - 4:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka/Beijing, Nov 9 (IANS) Bangladesh and Myanmar massed troops on their tense border over a row over oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal, with China asking them to settle their dispute through talks.Beijing also offered to “contribute in an appropriate manner” to a resolution of their differences.

“We hope the countries will settle it through equal and friendly negotiations and maintain a stable bilateral relationship. As their friend, China will contribute in an appropriate manner,” Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying.

Dhaka is aware of the influence China wields on the military junta in Myanmar, media reports in Bangladesh said, quoting foreign ministry officials.

Tension between Bangladesh and Myanmar intensified Friday as Myanmar started reinforcing border troops after talks over the disputed waters in the Bay of Bengal failed.

This prompted Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) to be on alert at strategic points in Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar districts.

According to BDR officials, the paramilitary forces have been put on alert in Rezu, Chakdhala, Asadtali, Fultali, Lebuchhari, Dhumdhum, Amtali, Tamru and Ukhia borders in the two districts, The Daily Star said Sunday.

The Bangladesh Navy intelligence has reported that Myanmar has begun mobilising troops near the Naf river.

BDR officials Saturday said since Myanmar continued reinforcing troops along its border, Bangladesh had also taken appropriate steps as a precaution.

The BDR has reportedly alerted people in the border areas about possible clashes. A number of schools have been vacated and handed over to the BDR.

The dispute emerged after Myanmar started oil and gas exploration last week in a stretch of sea claimed by Bangladesh.

Bangladesh deployed naval ships in the area and also sent a diplomatic team to Myanmar for negotiations. The next round of talks is likely in mid-November.

Bangladesh has maritime territorial dispute with India as well. Dhaka has revived talks with the two neighbours after a gap of over 25 years, after all three began to eye the bay for oil and gas exploration.

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