Bangladesh-Burma (Myanmar) maritime boundary dispute escalates
The oil-rich Bay of Bengal has been contested territory for years.
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Burma's alleged intrusion into Bangladesh's waters occurs less than a month after the Burmese Vice Senior General Maung Aye led a delegation to Dhaka and signed an agreement to speed up the resolution of longstanding issues. In October, Mizzima, a news service founded by exiled Burmese journalists, reported that disputed maritime boundaries were at the top of the agenda during the Bangladesh-Burma talks.Skip to next paragraph
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According to a Bangladesh based Burmese news agency, Kaladan Press Network (KPN), Bangladesh is keen on resolving the dispute over the maritime boundary with its neighbour Burma as it wants to explore the Bay of Bengal for natural gas reserves.
The Bangladesh government has recently taken measures to exploit the oil-rich Bay of Bengal, which have angered the leadership in Rangoon, reports AFP.
Early 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 immediately protested the move.
For several years, Bangladesh has been trying to define its maritime borders with the backing of the US and the European Union, but it has faced challenges from India and Burma. According to the New Age, Bangladesh and Burma have held a series of meetings this past year aimed at resolving maritime boundary disputes.
The two next-door neighbours resumed maritime boundary delimitation talks in January this year with a view to settle disputes over their command areas in the Bay of Bengal, rich in mineral resources.
They have planned to submit their claims to the United Nations as both are signatories to the UN Conventions on Law of the Sea. Myanmar is under UN obligation to draw its sea boundary by the middle of 2009, while Bangladesh will get time up to 2011.
During their three meetings so far, the two countries in principle agreed that none of them would carry out any exploration work in the disputed waters until the issue was amicably settled at the global forum.