New Delhi: Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmud Wednesday once again discussed the issue of growing number of Rohingya refugees in that country and how it has become a security challenge for Dhaka during his maiden visit to India in the current capacity. The two-day visit began Tuesday during which time Mahmud met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Mahmud, a senior leader of the ruling Awami League party of Bangladesh, arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday. This was his first official bilateral visit since assuming charge. On Wednesday the External Affairs Minister held delegation-level talks with him and also hosted a dinner in his honour. In both his meetings with Jaishankar as well as Doval, he raised the issue of Rohingya refugees and how that has the potential to become a greater threat for both the countries.
“The situation in Myanmar is a worrying factor for both countries because we share a border with Myanmar. We discussed the issue with the NSA because for regional peace and stability, it is important that peace prevails in Myanmar,” said Mahmud addressing reporters.
He also said, “We have given them shelter. We are in consultations with Myanmar and requesting them to take them back. Our ambassador in Myanmar has met with the foreign minister of Myanmar and they have agreed to take them back. How they will take them back – through a ship or by air – that is a question of discussion.”
This is not the first time that Bangladesh has raised the matter with India. In fact, Mahmud’s predecessor AK Abdul Momen had been discussing this issue with India for the past five years even as the number of Rohingya refugees coming into that country has been swelling ever since the Myanmar military coup took place in February 2021.
Dhaka has repeatedly asked New Delhi to speak to the government of Myanmar on behalf of them to settle the matter. Currently, a whopping 1.2 million Rohingya refugees are living in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar area.
After his meeting with NSA Doval, Mahmud said on X, “I had excellent meeting with national security advisor of India Mr. Ajit Doval. We discussed number of security issues including Rohingya issue. It was really an excellent meeting.”
Earlier this month Doval undertook a quiet visit to Bangladesh as India is facing greater security threats in the northeast region which is also witnessing massive influx of Myanmar citizens as well as security forces in states like Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Bangladesh has now decided that it will not accept anymore Rohingya refugees in the country. There have been growing incidents of violence and clashes along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. This has led to Myanmar forces and border guards taking shelter in Bangladesh.
On Tuesday, Bangladesh lodged a strong protest over the death of Bangladeshi nationals from mortar shells and bullets fired from Myanmar side in the border areas.
According to Mahmud, he will continue with the same agenda as his predecessor did. Mahmud was appointed as the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came back to power for the fifth time by winning a landslide victory in January this year.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, both Mahmud and Jaishankar, “reviewed the progress in wide-ranging areas of bilateral relations, including cross-border connectivity, economic and development partnership, cooperation in defence and security, power, energy, water resources and people-to-people exchanges.”
The MEA also said, both the ministers discussed areas of future engagement in line with the national development goals of the two countries, including the visions of ‘Viksit Bharat 2047’ and ‘Smart Bangladesh 2041’.
“The visit of Foreign Minister of Bangladesh to India is part of the on-going high-level exchanges between the two countries and has enabled both sides to chart out the course of their forward-looking engagement during the new term of the Government in Bangladesh,” said the MEA.