Dhaka Minister Meets US Congressman Who Mooted Rakhine Annexation

By Muktadir Rashid   19 July 2019

DHAKA—Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AKM Abul Momen met US Congressman Bradley Sherman in Washington on Thursday to discuss the issue of Rohingya repatriation. Sherman hit the headlines recently after reportedly proposing that the Rohingya crisis could be resolved by making Rakhine State part of Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi Ambassador to the US Mohammad Ziauddin was also present at the meeting.

Sherman tweeted on Thursday: “I was pleased to host Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Mr. A.K. Abdul Momen in my office today. We discussed ways to strengthen ties between Bangladesh and the United States, as well as the need for Burma [Myanmar] to accept and protect the repatriation of the Rohingya.”

On July 8, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina slammed Sherman for his proposal to recognize Rakhine as part of Bangladesh. The congressman floated the idea as a possible response to Myanmar’s denial of citizenship rights to ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine.

“We are happy with our existing territory and we would never grab others’ land,” Hasina, Bangladesh’s longest-serving prime minister, told reporters at a press conference at her official residence.

Speaking at the same US congressional hearing at which Sherman voiced his proposal, a US State Department official similarly rejected the congressman’s idea, telling him that the traditional U.S. position has been to support the territorial sovereignty of countries.

On Monday, Hasina said, “Myanmar will retain her sovereignty, as will Bangladesh.” Of the congressman’s plan, she said, “Why do they want to include Rakhine in Bangladesh? I believe this type of proposal is reprehensible and unjust.”

The prime minster added: “Why should we include a trouble-prone area within us? I will never do it.”

“On the other hand,” she said, “Myanmar is our neighbor. Yes, when there was a problem inside Myanmar we sheltered their people on humanitarian grounds, [but] sheltering does not mean we take over a part of their state. We do not want it. We want each country to enjoy their sovereignty, and the congressman should consider that,” she added.

Hasina’s press conference followed her five-day official visit to China earlier this month, during which she attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Dalian on July 2.

She held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Beijing on July 4 and 5, respectively, and met separately with Communist Party of China Minister for International Affairs Song Tao.

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