'Optimist' FM hopes for Teesta water solution | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 10, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:36 AM, February 10, 2019

'Optimist' FM hopes for Teesta water solution

Says India won't deport Rohingyas to Bangladesh

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday expressed optimism that Bangladesh and India will gradually resolve the water-sharing issues of all common rivers, including the Teesta, saying the two countries have already solved some big issues.

“I'm always optimistic. Based on this optimism, we've developed a sense of confidence and sense of mutual trust,” he said.

The foreign minister made the remarks while briefing reporters at the VIP lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport after his return from India.

Earlier, Bangladesh urged India to take steps for sharing the water of all the common rivers and resolving the long-pending Teesta water-sharing deal.

The foreign minister raised the issue at the 5th meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) between Bangladesh and India held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday afternoon.

Foreign Minister Momen and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj co-chaired the JCC meeting.

In response, the Indian external affairs minister assured that they would work for the early conclusion of the Teesta water-sharing agreement, according to Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi.

The foreign minister termed his India visit very successful and said his decision to visit India first was very appreciated by all, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Responding to a question, Momen said he sought India's support for quick repatriation of Rohingyas and to implement the development roadmaps of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina apart from his discussion on economic diplomacy which is emerging as a foreign policy priority for Bangladesh. “We need partnership and cooperation from all.”

He reiterated that uncertainty and various problems, including radicalisation, might emerge in the country if Rohingyas repatriation is delayed and they stay in Bangladesh for a longer period. “This problem should be resolved as quickly as possible.”  

Responding to another question, the foreign minister said India would not deport any Rohingya to Bangladesh but would send them to their country of origin -- Myanmar. “The Indian government will not send anyone to Bangladesh if they are Rohingyas and not Bangladeshi citizens. They will send them to their country of origin, not to Bangladesh,” he said.

On January 29, Momen said Myanmar could agree to create a safe zone under the direct supervision of ASEAN countries which may generate perception of safety and security for Rohingyas and make them willing to voluntarily return.

"We're now committed to their voluntary repatriation to their homeland as soon as Myanmar creates the congenial environment for their safe return," he said during his recent meeting with Special Envoy of Prime Minister and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam Nguyen Quoc Dzung at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka.

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