Myanmar Junta Border Forces Visit Bangladesh to Boost Ties

By Muktadir Rashid   31 October 2022

DHAKA — Border forces from Bangladesh and Myanmar’s junta on Sunday pledged to improve bilateral relations after shells landed in Bangladesh amid attacks on the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State.

“We are committed to helping each other in any necessity. We have also decided to work together to keep the border communities on both sides peaceful,” Bangladeshi Border Guard (BGB) Lieutenant Colonel Sheikh Khalid Muhammad Iftekhar told a press conference after the five-hour meeting in Cox’s Bazar.

He said the meeting stressed the need to boost mutual confidence and trust between the border forces of the two “friendly countries”.

Bangladesh protested against bullets, shells, landmines and helicopters crossing the Bangladesh border.

Col Iftekhar, who led an eight-member Bangladeshi delegation, said the regime regretted the incidents, especially the loss of life and damage to property.

“We have assured them that Bangladesh never allows its territory to be used by anyone for illegal activities. They are satisfied with our assurance,” he added.

The regime has been battling the AA near the Bangladeshi border in northern Rakhine State.

The seven-member delegation from Myanmar led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Ye Yai Soe said it would solve its “problems” in Rakhine State, according to the Bangladeshi delegation.

Col Iftekhar said the junta’s delegation was told that drug smuggling was causing problems in Bangladesh and the visitors promised to address the issue.

The BGB’s Colonel Azizur Rouf thanked the visitors for responding to Bangladesh’s calls for a meeting, which would build relations to a new height.

On September 16, a Rohingya teenager was killed and five people injured when a regime mortar exploded at a Rohingya camp along the border.

Last week, the regime’s special operations commander, Lieutenant General Phone Myat, visited Bangladesh’s army chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed in Dhaka in an apparent attempt to improve relations and boost regional security.

Bangladesh has filed diplomatic complaints since August about fighter jet and drone flights over its territory and mortars and machine gun rounds landing across the border.

Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star reported that Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told parliament on Sunday that he blamed the incidents on the conflict with the AA.

Bangladesh had remained patient as it wanted peaceful coexistence with Myanmar, Momen said.

“The foreign ministry is trying to resolve the ongoing problem regarding Myanmar’s recent behavior through diplomatic initiatives,” he told parliament

Retired Lieutenant General Md Mainul Islam, who commanded the BGB between 2009 and 2010, told The Irrawaddy that many rebel groups crossed the border in the past.

“Does Myanmar want to improve their relations with Bangladesh only when it faces trouble and not because of the trouble which Bangladesh faces?” he said.

The retired general suggested that before building trust, Bangladeshi intelligence must have information about the junta and Dhaka should learn from how India and Thailand maintain their borders with Myanmar.