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Normalcy Will Only Be Restored With Return of Rohingya to Myanmar: Sushma Swaraj

Normalcy Will Only Be Restored With Return of Rohingya to Myanmar: Sushma Swaraj

Swaraj is in Dhaka to co-chair the fourth meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission with her Bangladeshi counterpart A.H. Mahmood Ali.
Sushma Swaraj and Bangladesh foreign minister A.H. Mahmood Ali at the fourth JCC meeting to review various aspects of bilateral relations. Credit: Twitter/ihcdhaka
New Delhi: Backing Dhaka’s stance, Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that “normalcy” can only be restored after all the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh return to Myanmar.
Swaraj conveyed India’s evolving position on Rohingyas in her press statement after co-chairing the fourth meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) with her Bangladeshi counterpart A.H. Mahmood Ali in Dhaka on Sunday afternoon.
“It is clear that normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” she said.
As per Indian policy, Swaraj also did not mention the word ‘Rohingya’ – a term which is disputed by Myanmar. It was yet another demonstration of India having to maintain a delicate balance between Dhaka and Nyay Pyi Daw over the fate of half a million Rohingyas who streamed into Bangladesh after August 25.
Swaraj’s statement on the return of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was the first such declaration from the Indian political leadership.
India’s permanent representative to UN in Geneva, Rajiv Chander, had said on September 29 that efforts of the international community should be to “enable the two countries to work together vigorously to facilitate the immediate and safe return of the displaced persons and restoration of normalcy and communal harmony in Rakhine State”.
Chander had also specifically referred to Myanmar government’s assurances to take back refugees after verification, based on the principles agreed upon between Bangladesh and Myanmar in 1993.
Also read: Has India Become Party to a UNHRC Resolution Against Myanmar?
Swaraj didn’t refer to the 1993 agreement, but noted that the situation had to be “handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population.” She didn’t discuss India’s earlier statements – that blamed the exodus on security operations by Myanmar, following the terror attack by Rohingya militants – either.
She reiterated India’s standard position that the “long term” solution to the Rohingya issue was its socio-economic development.
“We have also supported implementation of the recommendations contained in the Kofi Annan led Special Advisory Commission report,” she said.
Earlier, Swaraj also mentioned that India had provided assistance to around 300,000 “displaced persons” at the camps in Cox’s Bazaar.
EAM @SushmaSwaraj
discussed situation arising out of influx of displaced persons from Rakhine State and need for an early & lasting solution pic.twitter.com/z0EycQK0E3
– Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) October 22, 2017
The Rohingya issue was discussed during her call on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“How long will Bangladesh bear it? There should be a permanent solution,” Swaraj apparently told the Bangladesh prime minister, according to Hasina’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim.
Sushma Swaraj with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Credit: Twitter/ihcdhaka
She will be meeting with BNP leader Khaleda Zia and leader of opposition Raushan Ershad on Sunday night. Before her return to Delhi, she will inaugurate 15 small development projects.
According to Bangladesh media reports, the Bangladeshi side has proposed new connectivity initiatives at the JCC meeting.
Those include air routes connecting Dhaka to Chennai and Colombo, along with shipping routes between Chittagong and Colombo via Kolkata. A new rail link between Panchgarh and Siliguri and a trade route connecting Nakugaon Land port to Bhutan’s Gayleyphung.
The Bangladesh foreign minister also said that there would be an exchange of letters soon for implementing BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement, with a clause for Bhutan to join later.
He added they agreed that the MoU for trilateral hydropower cooperation among Bangladesh, India and Bhutan would be signed soon. Dhaka has also proposed linking internet connectivity with Bhutan through Indian territory.
The Wire

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