DHAKA (AFP) - Myanmar has proposed taking back the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, the Bangladeshi foreign minister said after talks Monday with a senior Myanmar representative.
A.H Mahmood Ali said the representative of de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the repatriation. He gave no details.
"The talks were held in a friendly atmosphere and Myanmar has made a proposal to take back the Rohingya refugees," the minister told reporters after meeting Kyaw Tint Swe in Dhaka.
"The two sides have agreed to a proposal to set up a joint working group to coordinate the repatriation process."
Suu Kyi, who has been severely criticised for her failure to intervene in a military crackdown on the Rohingya, said in a speech last month that Myanmar would take back "verified" refugees.
This would be done according to the criteria set between the two countries in 1993, when tens of thousands of Rohingya were repatriated, she said. The Bangladesh minister gave no timeframe for repatriation.
He said the refugees would be verified by the joint working group, with the United Nations not involved. There was no immediate comment from Suu Kyi’s representative, who arrived in the country early Monday and is expected to leave later in the day.
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority, do not qualify for Myanmar citizenship even though many have lived there for generations. The army insists they are interlopers from across the border in Bangladesh.