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Bangladesh, Burma to Hold Talks Over Territorial Dispute


Bangladesh's foreign secretary, Toheid Hossain, is scheduled to travel to Burma Wednesday in a bid to defuse a dispute over oil- and gas-rich waters in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh's Additional Foreign Secretary, M.A.K. Mehmood, said Tuesday that Burma should halt all activity in the Bay of Bengal.

But Burmese officials say they will continue to explore for oil and gas in areas of the Bay of Bengal that Bangladesh claims as its territory.

A senior Burmese Foreign Ministry official told reporters there is no reason to stop the exploration, since the area is located in Burma's exclusive economic zone.

On Sunday, Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Hossain summoned Burma's ambassador to Dhaka to protest the reported intrusion.

The Bangladeshi navy has also sent vessels to patrol the area.

Over the past year, the two sides have held talks to resolve their dispute over the maritime boundary, as well as possible energy cooperation.

The area of the Bay of Bengal is believed to have abundant reserves of oil and gas.

Earlier this year, Dhaka auctioned off offshore oil and gas exploration blocks to international oil companies.

Bangladesh is facing a gas shortage, and has not made any new gas discoveries since the late 1990s.