The Rohingya issue could not be included in the declaration of the 4th Bimstec summit, held on August 30-31 in Kathmandu, as there was no scope for formal discussion on the matter during the summit, Bimstec Secretary General Shahidul Islam said yesterday.
He made the remark at a post-summit press briefing held in the Bimstec Secretariat at Gulshan in the city.
Responding to a query made by The Daily Star, he also said, “There was no proposal or request from any member country to include or not to include the Rohingya issue in the agenda for discussion or adding [it] in the Kathmandu Declaration.”
Since the issue was not included in the agenda, there was no scope to discuss it during the summit, added the secretary general.
Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) member countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
In another query, The Daily Star asked whether India or Myanmar had requested not to discuss the Rohingya issue at the summit. In response, the secretary general categorically replied in the negative.
Both Bangladesh and Myanmar have shown their prudence by not raising the Rohingya issue as they feel that raising any contentious issue would hinder the progress of the forum, Secretary General Shahidul said, adding, “And we feel that both Bangladesh and Myanmar have shown diplomatic maturity by not raising the Rohingya issue when the organisation is not ready to deal with this sort of issue.”
Senior officials of the Bimstec Secretariat were also present at the briefing.