KUALA LUMPUR (DPA) — Myanmar has vowed to cooperate in stopping the flow of thousands of boat people, mostly Muslim Rohingyas, to other South-East Asian countries, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said after high-level talks in Yangon.
Myanmar had been reluctant to join regional efforts to tackle the migrant crisis, and did not send a delegation to a key meeting in Malaysia on Wednesday, although officials have said a delegation would go to a regional conference in Bangkok next week.
"Myanmar is ready to provide full cooperation to Malaysia … in solving the conflict in Rakhine State, as well as the humanitarian crisis over immigrants in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea," the ministry said in a statement late Thursday.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was in Yangon on Thursday for talks with his Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin.
The Myanmar foreign minister reportedly told Anifah that Yangon was concerned about the situation and would continue to implement programmes of economic and social development in Myanmar's troubled western region.
Malaysia, the current chairman of the 10-country Association of South-East Asian Nations, has spearheaded efforts to resolve the Rohingya problem. The issue came to a head as boats crammed with hundreds of illegal migrants and refugees were blocked from coming ashore and in some cases towed back out to sea.
On Wednesday, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to allow Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people to land on their shores provided they would be resettled to a third country within a year.
The Rohingya say they suffer discrimination in Myanmar, which does not recognize them as citizens, and considers them illegal Bengali immigrants.