UK’s Johnson urges ‘independent’ probe of refugee crisis in Suu Kyi talks

A handout photo made available by Myanmar News Agency (MNA) shows Britsh Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson (L) talking with Myanmar State Counsellor and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Aung San Suu Kyi (R) during their meeting at capital Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 11 February 2018. Photo: MNA/EPA-EFE

Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson stopped off in Myanmar on Sunday to press Aung San Suu Kyi on the need for an independent probe into violence in Rakhine state, as the country faces mounting pressure to punish troops accused of abuses against the Muslim Rohingya.

Johnson met with the Myanmar leader, whose reputation among the international community has crumbled over her handling of the crisis, in the capital Naypyidaw while on a four-day Asian tour.

The meeting followed Johnson's visit to a refugee camp in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, where nearly 700,000 Rohingya have sought sanctuary after fleeing a Myanmar army crackdown launched in northern Rakhine last August.

"I underlined the importance of the Burmese authorities carrying out a full and independent investigation into the violence in Rakhine, and to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations,"  Johnson said in a statement, using the alternative name for Myanmar, released after the meeting and a brief trip to northern Rakhine.

It added that he had stressed the "urgency" of creating the conditions in the state that could make it a "safe place for the Rohingya refugees to return to, free from fear".

Johnson's statement said he had also "raised the plight" of two arrested Reuters journalists with Suu Kyi.

Myanmar's foreign ministry announced in a Facebook post alongside photos of the pair meeting that they had "discussed in an open and friendly manner the latest developments in Rakhine State, including planning for the reception of returnees who fled".

Myanmar and Bangladesh have inked a deal to bring back refugees, but repatriation has yet to begin.


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