Bangladesh seeks proactive role of ASEAN in resolving Rohingya crisis


Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen has said that Bangladesh wants to intensify political, trade, economic and cultural connectivity with the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and seeks its support for early repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

Myanmar is a member of ASEAN, although its leadership was frozen out of the bloc’s most recent summit following the return of a military junta to power in the country.

‘Bangladesh shares common agenda with ASEAN countries for sustainable economic prosperity in our region, where peace, security and stability will prevail,’ he said.

Momen was speaking as chief guest at a reception hosted by the Royal Thai embassy on Thursday evening, to celebrate the golden jubilee of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Thai ambassador to Bangladesh Makawadee Sumitmor also spoke.

Momen sought Thailand’s support for Bangladesh’s bid to become ASEAN sectoral dialogue partner, preferably by this year.

Bangladesh has been sheltering 1.2 million Myanmar nationals who were subjected to forcible displacement for the last five years on humanitarian considerations, the foreign minister said.

He said that the heavy burden of sheltering such a huge number of displaced people (the Rohingya) had become acutely unsustainable for Bangladesh.

‘Dhaka seeks a more proactive role of the ASEAN member states, including Thailand, for an expeditious repatriation of these Myanmar nationals to their homeland,’ he said.

Turning to the bilateral relationship, Momen noted that the high level visits of prime minister Sheikh Hasina to Thailand in 2013 and the visits to Bangladesh of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhom in 2011 and 2018 made significant contributions toward further cementing the friendship between the two nations.

‘We look forward to maintaining the momentum in our bilateral relations through more such high level engagements in the coming days,’ Momen said.

He urged the private sectors to create stronger synergies in order to tap into the unutilised potentials for the mutual benefit of our two robust economies.

Since establishment of diplomatic ties, the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Thailand have flourished steadily.

‘The solid foundations of our bilateral relations today have truly paved the way for our centenary celebrations and beyond in future,’ Momen said.

He prayed for the continued peace, progress and prosperity of the friendly peoples of Bangladesh and Thailand.

The foreign minister said that Bangladesh-Thailand relations were rooted in strong civilisational, cultural, linguistic and spiritual bonds.

The two countries have extensive people-to-people contacts as people travel often for tourism, medical treatment, business and education purposes.

‘As a close neighbour and BIMSTEC partner, Bangladesh attaches special importance to her relations with Thailand,’ Momen said.

He also said that Bangladesh considered Thailand an inspiration for socioeconomic development.

‘We look forward to Thailand’s continued cooperation and collaboration for our transformation to a knowledge-based developed economy under Vision- 2041,’ Momen said.

He added, ‘Both of our countries have significant potentials to evolve as facilitators of greater connectivity between South Asia and South East Asia.’

Diplomats stationed in Dhaka, political leaders, business leaders, journalists, civil society members were present.

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