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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar would like to refer to the aide memoire dated 13 September 2020 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh regarding the recent movements of Myanmar security forces near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. In this regard, the Ministry would like to respond as follows:

• The recent movements of Myanmar security forces near the Myanmar-Bangladesh international border were no more than the regular change of duty of police personnel accompanied by their family members.

• On 11 September 2020, there was only movement which was related to the change of duty of police personnel in Maungtaw area in Rakhine State. On 10 September 2020, members of the Border Guard Police of Myanmar and their families were transported on naval vessels and later on civilian boats, to their designated station areas.

• Such movements of police personnel were part of the regular duties undertaken to ensure the prevalence of rule of law and security, and to safeguard the livelihood of all local communities in Rakhine State. The movements and activities of the Myanmar security personnel were intended neither to intimidate nor to pose a threat to Bangladesh.

• During the period between June 2020 and 10 September 2020, skirmishes between the Myanmar security forces and the terrorist groups of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Arakan Army (AA) occurred seven times near the border inside Myanmar territory. On 4 June 2020, the Border Guard Police personnel encountered ARSA terrorists near border post 35. During this encounter, there was neither use of military helicopters nor a joint operation conducted with the Tatmadaw as alleged by Bangladesh. There were also heavy artillery attacks against one of the Myanmar military camps by the AA terrorist group based in Bangladeshi territory.

• The above-mentioned movements of the security personnel and their family members, and the clashes outlined above occurred only within Myanmar territory, beyond the 500-yard stretch of the international border.

• Myanmar also wishes to recall the meeting between the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Myanmar and the Director-General of the Department of Strategic Studies and Training of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, on 12 August 2020, when the Bangladeshi Ambassador suggested that Myanmar should “beef up” security measures at the border to ensure the prevalence of rule of law and security along the border as the Bangladeshi side was having difficulty in deploying security forces due to the rough terrain on their side of the border.

• These activities of the Myanmar security forces do not contravene paragraph 5 of Annex III of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on the Establishment of Border Liaison Offices, signed on 24 October 2017, which states that “The parties shall share information on important civil and military activities near the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh that can contribute to confidence building among designated border authorities”.

• The Border Liaison Office was established in Maungtaw on 15 October 2018 to discuss security matters at the border areas. Since then, Myanmar has extended to Bangladesh three invitations to hold Border Liaison Office meetings in October 2018, August 2019, and January 2020 respectively. The first two invitations were ignored and with regard to the third, the Bangladeshi side responded that it would not be convenient because of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

• Myanmar stands ready to hold meetings with Bangladesh to discuss border security related matters through the Border Liaison Office mechanism.