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Bangladesh minister claims India is ready to play peacemaker on Rohingya issue

India has promised to support Bangladesh in its endeavour to rehabilitate the Rohingyas– a Muslim ethnic minority group, who fled persecution in Myanmar leading to a humanitarian crisis. In an interview to the Daily Star Bangla, Abdul Momen, Bangladesh foreign minister said that both India and Bangladesh believed that the only solution to the problem was to rehabilitate the Rohingyas by sending them back to their own country.

“India has said it agrees with us that the Rohingyas have to return to their own country. That is the solution. They (India) will help us in this,” Momen said in the interview.

Bangladesh sought a resolution to keep up international pressure on Myanmar for repatriation of the Rohingyas.

India had earlier abstained in UN General Assembly committee note on the Rohingya issue. While India abstained from voting China had voted in favour of Myanmar.

According to a Reuters report, in 2018, China, supported by Russia, even made an attempt to stop a United Nations Security Council briefing by the chair of a UN inquiry that accused Myanmar’s military of genocide against Rohingya Muslims and urged the 15-member council to push for justice.

Momen said that China, which voted against Bangladesh, was driven by its own interest. “Though India abstained from voting for Bangladesh, New Delhi had informed Dhaka about its decision prior to the voting,” an analyst said.

The analyst said that India will have to delicately balance relations. "It must support Bangladesh in the Rohingya issue but at the same time, it needs to balance its ties with Myanmar," he said.

Momen said that Bangladesh feels secured today because of “extremely cordial” relations with India while New Delhi, on the other hand, does not have to worry about its eastern border. The minister said that both countries have hugely benefitted because of bilateral co-operation.

“In case there was discord, it would definitely led to concerns and an environment of uncertainty would have come up,” Momen said.

For Bangladesh, India is the largest neighbour.

While there have been some serious hiccups between the two neighbours in the past especially in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, relations have eased in the last few months and the recent summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put a stamp on a new era of bilateral co-operation.

“Both countries realise the importance of maintaining good relations between the two. Bangladesh is developing fast and it stands to benefit economically from India and on the other hand, for New Delhi, Dhaka is critical for its strategic location,” an analyst said.

Modi has underlined the importance of Bangladesh in his “Neighbours First” policy. In his recent meeting with Hasina, he stressed that Bangladesh has been his focus from the time he took charge as Prime Minister of India..