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‘No breakthrough expected from tripartite meet on Rohingya crisis’

Dhaka,Bangladesh

No breakthrough is expected from a foreign secretary-level tripartite meeting on the protracted Rohingya crisis between Bangladesh, Myanmar and China on Tuesday, senior diplomats told.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen will meet his counterparts from Myanmar and China virtually in a meeting initiated by China.

Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) are sounding optimistic publicly about the meeting, but few senior officials have voiced their pessimism about it.

“We hope it will be a fruitful meeting,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Wednesday.

“We have no choice but to hope for the best. We’ll put forward our strong arguments for the quick repatriation of the Rohingyas sheltered in our country,” a senior (MoFA) official told this correspondent on Monday.

“We’ll also put forward some recommendations so that the repatriation begins as quickly as possible,” he said.

“It will be a miracle if there’s any breakthrough in the meeting. Given Myanmar’s history of not living up to its promises and obligations, I don’t expect any breakthrough,” another senior official said.

“To me, the meeting is a resumption of direct communication with Myanmar as well as China after a long gap. This may help even to a minimum extent,” he said.

“Look, we have seen such meetings before. There was also a minister-level tripartite meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, 2019,” a third senior official said.

“Has there been any progress on the ground despite assurances from Myanmar? I think not,” he said.

“I believe there will be some assurances from the Myanmar and Chinese sides in this meeting too. But, we all know what these assurances might bring about,” said the official.

He also said that there is no need for such a meeting because if Myanmar wants, it can start the repatriation on any given day based on the existing bilateral documents signed between Dhaka and Naypyitaw.

“But, the only problem is Myanmar is not willing to take its people back,” he added.

To a question, the official with deep knowledge about the issue said: “It’s the pressure from China that can make the difference. Beijing has been saying for a while that it will help us solve the crisis. But, we’re yet to see any visible outcome.”

“As of now, it can be said that Myanmar is most likely to change its attitude only after China exerts significant pressure on its ally,” he said.

“But, the question remains whether China will do so. And, if it decides to do so, then when?,” he added.

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