Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to start repatriating refugees from the Muslim Rohingya minority who fled across their mutual border to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, Dhaka said Thursday.
After weeks of tussling over the terms of repatriation, the two sides inked a deal in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw following talks between Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Dhaka's Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali.
In a brief statement, Dhaka said the two sides had agreed to start returning the refugees in two months.
It said that a working group would be set up within three weeks to agree the arrangements for the repatriation.
More than 620,000 Rohingya have poured into Bangladesh since August 25, running from a Myanmar military crackdown in Rakhine that Washington said this week clearly constitutes "ethnic cleansing.”
The human rights group Amnesty International also said in a report Tuesday that the discrimination has worsened considerably in the last five years, and that it amounts to "dehumanizing apartheid."
In brief remarks to the press, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Ali said: "This is a primary step. (They) will take back (Rohingya). Now we have to start working."
It remains unclear how many Rohingya will be allowed back and how long the process will take.
Rights groups have raised concerns about the process, including where the minority will be resettled after hundreds of their villages were razed.