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26 June 2009

Bangladesh to take maritime dispute with Myanmar to UN

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Bangladesh will protest in the United Nations against Myanmar's claim to a territorial sea in the Bay of Bengal, especially that of the "baseline" which is needed to delimit its maritime border, India’s state news agency PTI quoted officials as saying in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka Thursday.

According to the officials a "baseline" is the line from which the seaward limits of a state's territorial sea and certain other maritime zones of jurisdiction are measured.

"We have decided to send the protest to the United Nations and Myanmar in next few days," a foreign ministry official said confirming a New Age report that Dhaka had already finalised its protest note after making in-depth analysis of Myanmar's claim over the areas of overlapping claims in Bay of Bengal.

He said the letter would be sent before the next round of technical discussions between Dhaka and Yangon for maritime delimitation, which is scheduled to be held in the middle of July.

Yangon submitted the claim to the UN Commission of the Limits of the Continental Shelf, a body formed to deal with the maritime delimitation issue on December 28, 2008 incorporating its new baseline that includes the islands of Preparis and Coco.

Officials in Dhaka said that Myanmar has reviewed its territorial sea and maritime zones law of 1977 to establish its right to the territorial waters in the Bay.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni earlier this month said maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar could only be delimited by applying principles of "equity" as practised in other parts of the world.

"As member States of UNCLOS 1982, both states are supposed to delimit their maritime boundaries in accordance with Article 15, 74 and 83 of UNCLOS. We are continuing our discussion and hope to resolve the issue based on the internationally accepted rules, norms and practises," she told a function recently.

Due to the funnel-like shape of the Bay of Bengal, the claims of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar have apparently overlapped on the issue of the "starting point" on how to mark from the coastline the exclusive economic zone.

Until recently, Bangladesh's negotiations with Myanmar and India remained stalled due to the lukewarm response from both the countries to the proposal for coming to the negotiation table as well as lack of adequate preparations on the part of Dhaka to handle the issue, admitted officials.


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