Rohingya Muslims could go back to Burma, says minister

They were flown by helicopter to Maungdaw, epicentre of the violence. Mr Mahmood Ali held what he called “friendly” talks in Dhaka with the representative of Burma’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Myanmar has made a proposal to take back the Rohingya refugees,” the minister told reporters, using another name for Burma.

“The two sides have agreed to a proposal to set up a joint working group to coordinate the repatriation process.”

Ms Suu Kyi, who has been severely criticised for her failure to curb the military crackdown, said last month that Burma would take back “verified” refugees.

This would be done according to criteria agreed in 1993, when tens of thousands of Rohingya were repatriated, she said.

The Bangladesh minister gave no timeframe for repatriation and did not say whether Burma would also take back 300,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh during earlier violence.

He said refugees would be verified by the joint working group, but without UN involvement.

“Bangladesh has proposed a bilateral agreement [with Burma] to help implement the repatriation,” he said.

There was no immediate comment from Ms Suu Kyi’s representative, who was to return to his country on Monday.

Burma denies the Rohingya minority citizenship even though many have lived there for generations. It considers the Muslims illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

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