The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in German fixed new boundaries that were seen as a compromise to a decades-old dispute. The dispute over a resource-rich area of the sea claimed by both Burma and Bangladesh was settled by a United Nations court on Wednesday. "Both sides won something and lost something," said the German judge on the panel, Ruediger Wolfrum, according to German news agency DPA.
A Bangladesh official said it was a "victory for both sides," and Dhaka and Burma could now begin to exploit the area for gas and oil. The court's ruling cannot be appealed.
The decades-long dispute had led to tense stand-offs involving war ships in 2008 when Bangladesh accused Burma of exploring for gas in disputed waters.
A Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement asserted, "The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on March 14, 2012 sustained Bangladesh's claims to a full 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 miles."
Reflecting the thaw in the relationship, Dipu Moni was quoted in the Financial Express as saying, "It is a victory for both of the states. Because it finally resolves-peacefully and according to international law-a problem that had hampered their economic development for more than three decades. We salute Myanmar for its willingness to resolve this matter by legal means and for its acceptance of the tribunal's judgment."
Bangladesh Claims Victory in Bay of Bengal Dispute: THE IRRAWADDY
A long-running maritime boundary dispute between Burma and Bangladesh ended on Wednesday after arbitration at the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Sea (ITOLS) in Hamburg, Germany. The 151-page ruling by the UN body was considered a victory for Bangladesh, in a dispute that threatened to turn violent in 2008.
Bangladesh took the case to the tribunal after the Burmese navy escorted oil and gas exploration vessels and a rig run by South Korea's Daewoo company into sea that both countries claimed as their own, but is situated some 50 km from the Bangladeshi-owned Saint Martin's Island.
"We are happy, we are absolutely delighted," Dipu Moni, the Bangladeshi foreign minister, told reporters.
"This is a great day for Bangladesh. All our strategic objectives were achieved," she said after the ruling, which paves the way for Bangladesh to begin exploration of the sea bed, primarily with US oil company Conoco Philips. The ruling awarded Bangladesh some 111,000 square km of sea, in what was seen as a landmark ruling, delimiting areas of sea beyond 200 nautical miles from the mainland.
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