Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Suu Kyi pledged Monday that repatriation of the displaced people would begin within three weeks after Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh. The memorandum was signed on Oct. 24. He said Suu Kyi gave no further details.
A Philippine official also said Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has assured other Southeast Asian nations that her government is implementing the recommendations of a commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the situation in Rakhine state, where more than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
Roque said at least two ASEAN leaders brought up the Rohingya issue Monday during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila.
Roque said Suu Kyi did not refer to the Rohingya by name.
Although Rohingya Muslims have lived in Myanmar for decades, the country’s Buddhist majority still sees them as invaders from Bangladesh. The government denies them basic rights, and the United Nations has called them one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Since August, when their homes were torched by Buddhist mobs and soldiers, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.
Southeast Asian leaders were to announce Monday the start of negotiations with China on a so-called “Code of Conduct” in the disputed South China Sea in what they regard as a milestone but some experts dismiss as a non-starter.
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also will sign an accord aiming to protect migrant workers from the poverty-wracked region during a two-day summit that opened Monday in Manila, according to a draft of a post-summit communique seen by The Associated Press.
The ASEAN leaders also will reiterate their “grave concern” over North Korea’s development of “weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and ballistic missile technologies,” and press their strong condemnation of terrorism in the communique.