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Bangladesh Deploy Warship Amid Myanmar Gas Exploration Tension

Bangladesh said Tuesday it has deployed another warship to the Bay of Bengal and would send a top diplomat to Myanmar amid escalating tensions over gas exploration in disputed waters

Bangladesh Deploy Warship Amid Myanmar Gas Exploration Tension

Bangladesh said Tuesday it has deployed another warship to the Bay of Bengal and would send a top diplomat to Myanmar amid escalating tensions over gas exploration in disputed waters.

Foreign Minister Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury told AFP a three-member team led by Bangladesh's foreign secretary would fly to Myanmar later in the day to try to resolve the row.

"They will discuss the latest situation with Myanmar officials and try to defuse the situation," he said.

Chowdhury said Bangladesh would "endeavour to settle the issue diplomatically" but warned of unspecified action if Myanmar continued to hunt for gas.

"Let it also be understood that we will do all that it takes to protect our sovereignty," he said, repeating earlier warnings that the South Asian nation would not hesitate to take "all possible measures."

He said Bangladesh has so far refrained from energy exploration in disputed waters, despite its earlier invitation to foreign oil companies to explore offshore for gas.

"It is our hope Myanmar will do the same," he added.

A top navy official said a frigate had been sent to the disputed waters, joining the three warships already deployed 50 kilometres south of Saint Martin Island, close to the border between the two countries.

"We deployed a British-made frigate, the BNS Kopothakka, to step up patrols, as Myanmar's navy had not yet shifted its vessels engaged in exploration activities" he said.

"Other vessels in our fleet were kept on stand-by," he said.

Myanmar has discovered huge reserves of natural gas in the Bay of Bengal and has expressed its intention to carry out further exploration in a stretch of the sea also claimed by Bangladesh.

The two countries have held a series of meetings in the past year aimed at resolving the disputes over the maritime boundary, including a meeting last month in Dhaka of senior ministers from both countries.

The foreign ministry announced that more substantive discussions on the maritime boundary would be held in Dhaka on 16-17 November when a delegation from Myanmar will come to Bangladesh.

Earlier this year Bangladesh divided its sea territory into 28 blocks and auctioned off the area to international oil companies as part of its efforts to end chronic gas shortages in the once gas-rich country.

Myanmar protested the move.

Author: Jo Amey


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