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November 12, 2008

Myanmar-Bangladesh Maritime Dispute:
Tension remains high as troops buildup continues

Tension on Bangladesh-Myanmar border continued yesterday with no sign of pull back of forces of the two countries deployed along the frontier in the last few days, a Bangladesh daily reported.

The Daily Star, quoting reports from the bordering areas, said Bangladesh has to keep its forces on alert as Myanmar moved several warships in the Buthidang river near its border Tuesday.

Locals and Myanmar citizens who came to Cox's Bazar yesterday said 10 to 12 warships moved to the river from Akiab port on Sunday night.

Myanmar has mobilised troops to assist its border force Nasaka and dug buckers along the borders. It also curbed cross border movement of people and transports by creating a 'curfew-like' situation. Trade between the two countries has been stalled.

Tension between the two countries rose as Myanmar started oil and gas exploration last week in Bangladesh's territorial waters. Against this backdrop, Dhaka deployed naval ships in the site and sent a high-level diplomatic team to Yangon seeking to resolve the issue through negotiations.

The crisis in the Bay apparently ended following withdrawal of the fossil fuel exploration rig of Korean company Daewoo on Saturday. But tension grew as Myanmar mobilised forces on the land border.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have so far held three rounds of talks to resolve the maritime boundary dispute and the fourth round is expected to be held in Dhaka next week, foreign ministry officials said.

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