November 5, 2008 / 12:15 PM / 11 years ago

Bangladesh asks China for help in Myanmar sea row

DHAKA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Bangladesh asked China on Wednesday to help it resolve a row with Myanmar over oil and gas exploration in deep-sea blocks in disputed waters in the Bay of Bengal, foreign ministry officials said.

Bangladesh sent a naval patrol to the area on Sunday after Myanmar began exploration in the blocks, thought to be rich in gas reserves. The two have been holding talks for years to demarcate their border in the Bay of Bengal.

“I have explained our peaceful intentions to our Chinese friends and hope that Myanmar stops activities on the disputed waters,” foreign minister Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury told reporters after meeting Chinese ambassador Zheng Qingdian.

Earlier, Iftekhar said Bangladesh would do everything needed to protect its sovereignty and assert what Dhaka says are its rightful claims in the Bay of Bengal.

Myanmar said on Tuesday it would go ahead with the exploration of the deep-sea blocks. Yangon summoned the Bangladesh ambassador on Sunday to complain after Dhaka sent navy ships to the area.

Bangladesh also sent a diplomatic team to Yangon on Tuesday in a bid to resolve the standoff, saying it wanted a diplomatic solution to avoid any confrontation.

Technical delegations from both sides were scheduled to meet in Dhaka on Nov. 16 and 17 to discuss maritime boundary demarcation, officials said.

Bangladesh said last year some offshore blocks that Myanmar had been trying to explore in cooperation with India were in its waters. (Reporting by Nizam Ahmed and Masud Karim; Editing by Paul Tait)

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