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Bangladesh-Burma (Myanmar) maritime boundary dispute escalates

The oil-rich Bay of Bengal has been contested territory for years.

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According to the Associated Press, Burma will continue exploring for gas and oil.

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The Myanmar government, meanwhile, said it would continue exploration in the Bay of Bengal, despite the territorial dispute with Bangladesh, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.
The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said Myanmar has formally lodged a complaint over an alleged intrusion of Bangladesh Navy boats.
"We will not stop our exploration activities, which are inside Myanmar waters," the official said. "We have warned Bangladesh against the intrusion of their naval vessels into our territory."

But quoting a Burmese navy official, Reuters India reports the Burmese ships have ceased exploration activities, though they are not withdrawing from the disputed waters.

According to Nairinjara News, talks between Bangladeshi and Burmese naval officers stationed on the deployed ships are also reportedly underway.

According to an official source, three Bangladesh navy ships are now in the area to discuss the issue with officials from the Burmese ships.
"The commanding officer of BNS Abu Bakar is currently in dialogue with the officers of Burma naval ships there," the official sources said.
The Burmese navy has responded by alleging that the Bangladesh ships are trespassing in Burmese territory.

Bangladesh has strongly protested the incursion through diplomatic channels and is demanding that the Burmese ships withdraw until a maritime boundary can be agreed upon through negotiations, reports the New Age, a Dhaka-based national newspaper.

Myanmar ambassador U Phae Thann Oo was summoned twice to the foreign ministry in [the] last 24 hours to lodge strong protests against the reported intrusion of marine vessels into Bangladesh waters and tell the authorities in Yangon to stop gas exploration works until territorial disputes are settled at the UN level.

On Wednesday, a diplomatic mission from Bangladesh is expected to arrive in Rangoon to defuse the escalating row, reports Reuters India.

"The dispute should not lead to a confrontation between the two friendly neighbours and must be solved immediately through diplomacy," Foreign Adviser (minister) Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury told reporters....
A team headed by Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain will visit Yangon on Wednesday, Chowdhury said. Another scheduled meeting on sea boundary demarcation will be held in Dhaka on Nov. 16 and 17.
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