UK foreign minister raises refugee issue

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British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson Visits Myanmar Meets Suu Kyi

(British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson Visits Myanmar Meets Suu Kyi)

The repatriation of Muslim refugees from Bangladesh topped the discussions between State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and visiting UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Johnson met his counterpart on Sunday morning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw.

“In this discussion, both sides discussed latest issues and development in Rakhine State, including physical arrangements for the reparation of displaced people,” said a brief statement released by the ministry.

His visit comes at a critical time when Myanmar is grappling to resolve the fate of about 650,000 Muslim refugees who fled to Bangladesh from northern Rakhine State in the wake of a wave of violence that started on August 25 last year.

Thousands are still languishing in squalid camps in Bangladesh and have refused to return to their villages despite attempts by both governments to repatriate them.

According to a British statement, the foreign secretary is on a four-day visit to Asia until Monday.

On Saturday, Johnson visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where the Muslim refugees are sheltering and also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali.

In a separate meeting with Abdul Hassan Mahmud Ali, the foreign secretary raised the ongoing Rohingya crisis, added the statement.

Johnson said that the UK is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees.

“UK aid is making a real difference, with £59 million helping to provide the food, water and shelter that is still so needed,”  Johnson said.

In Bangladesh, Johnson said he would discuss with Myanmar government how to ease the refugees return to their homes safely.

“I want to see and hear for myself the terrible things these people have been through, and I will be talking to State Counsellor (Daw) Aung San Suu Kyi and other regional leaders about how we can work together to resolve this appalling crisis,” Johnson said in a statement released on Friday.

The foreign secretary will travel to Bangkok for talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and also meet the chair of the Advisory Board on the Rakhine Advisory Commission, Surakiart Sathirathai.

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