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Myanmar refuses to back down in row with Bangladesh

Myanmar refused to back down Thursday in a row with Bangladesh, vowing it would continue to explore gas in disputed waters despite a four-day standoff between warships in the Bay of Bengal.
Myanmar, which has discovered huge reserves of natural gas in the Bay of Bengal, insisted its exploration work was legal.

"The government of the Union of Myanmar rejects the wrongful demands of Bangladesh as it has been working according to international law," said a statement broadcast on Myanmar state television.

"In order to protect and maintain the benefit of the country the exploration of (area) AD7 will continue until it has finished," it added.

The two countries have held a series of meetings in the past year aimed at resolving the dispute over their maritime boundary.

Tensions flared when Myanmar sent warships to support a Korean company drilling some 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Bangladesh's Saint Martin Island.

Bangladesh immediately deployed four warships to the area and warned it would take "all possible measures" to protect its sovereignty.

But Myanmar's ruling junta said its support of the Korean company Daewoo was in accordance with a contract agreed in 2005 for "Myanmar's special economic zone."

"While the company was working, neighbouring Bangladesh unlawfully and wrongfully demanded an immediate halt to drilling on the Myanmar side saying the AD7 offshore field is in their waters," state media announced.

Earlier Thursday, a Bangladesh naval official said Myanmar had withdrawn two warships, but this could not be confirmed.

Bangladesh foreign secretary Touhid Hossain flew to Myanmar on Wednesday for talks on the row.

Three members of the Bangladesh delegation had already arrived in Yangon on Wednesday, and a Myanmar government official said Thursday that they had headed to the isolated capital Naypyidaw for talks with junta officials.

Another official from Myanmar's military government said Wednesday the country was open to talks, but insisted that oil and gas companies were operating inside its own territory and far away from the disputed sea boundary.

Click to view image: '247903-bangladeshnavyfrigatebg.jpg'

Added: Nov-8-2008 
By: GI-Gizmo
Tags: myanmar, bangladesh, dispute, oil, bay, bengal, navy
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