UN to take part in Rohingya repatriation, says Bangladesh

Boris Johnson shakes hands with Aung San Suu Kyi

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday to discuss the Southeast Asian nation's Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority and how nearly 700,000 of them can be repatriated safely after fleeing to Bangladesh to escape violence perpetrated largely by Myanmar's military.

Shahriar Alam, a foreign affairs minister, said the government signed the deal so the country could not be accused of returning anyone from the Muslim minority against their will. "We have repeatedly said this repatriation process is very complex", Alam told reporters.

The Nobel Peace Prize victor had been criticized overseas for not standing up for the largely stateless Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine, where an army crackdown forced more than 688,000 to flee to Bangladesh since August 25 a year ago.

"If the Rohingyas flee into Bangladesh again once the repatriation process begins, the work to send them back will be hard", he said.

Johnson met with the embattled Myanmar leader, whose reputation among the worldwide community has crumbled over her handling of the Rohingya crisis, in the capital Naypyidaw while on a four-day Asian tour.

"Bangladesh wants to make sure the situation in Myanmar is safe and secure", he said.

The United States and other countries are calling for an independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations and violent acts.

But the crisis in Rakhine state is just one of some two dozen conflicts festering around the country's borderlands, where ethnic rebels have for decades fought the state for more autonomy.

"I pay tribute to the hospitality and compassion shown by the government of Bangladesh, who are facing an enormous challenge in providing humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya community", Johnson said on Saturday after visiting Rohingya refugees at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, on the border with Myanmar.

Alam urged patience and said Bangladesh did not want to send back the refugees only to have them return, as has happened after past rounds of repatriation. The Rohingya also want guarantees of citizenship before returning to Myanmar, which views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have been there for generations.

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