Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said on Saturday that settling the maritime boundary disputes with India and Myanmar was critical for the country’s progress.

“Progress according to our development plans and ensuring best use of our limited resources requires retrieval of mineral resources from the sea,” she told journalists at Chandpur.

Ms. Moni was speaking just days after announcing that Bangladesh would refer the disputes for compulsory arbitration before a U.N. tribunal as Myanmar and India have “unfairly” cut off Bangladesh’s sea blocks. “We have already given official notifications to the Ambassadors [of India and Myanmar] on starting the arbitration process,” she said.

She also said that the arbitration notification issued to India and Myanmar to resolve the dispute will be settled according to convention.

The Minister told a press briefing on Thursday last that the government had opted for compulsory arbitration as the country had failed to resolve the disputes with the two neighbours in the past 35 years.

She said the demarcation would establish Dhaka’s right to extract oil and gas from the Bay of Bengal. Ms. Dipu Moni, however, added Dhaka would continue talks with the two neighbours. She disclosed the arbitration decision a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the parliament that her government would extract oil and gas from the Bay of Bengal.

The government has recently awarded the three offshore blocks to two foreign companies for oil and exploration, with a provision that no exploration can take place in any disputed waters of the blocks.

But India has raised questions over deep sea blocks 5 and 10 and Myanmar has disputed shallow sea block 11 on the grounds of their sea boundary being breached.

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