• Kyodo

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The foreign ministers of Japan and Bangladesh agreed Monday to help realize the early return of Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar.

“Japan will continue to encourage collaboration (between Bangladesh and Myanmar) and will provide necessary support,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono said at a press conference after talks with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to neighboring Bangladesh since last August due to a military crackdown, according to the United Nations.

Kono said Japan will seek the “safe and voluntary” return of the refugees, while Ali said at the press conference he hopes for Japan’s support to solve the problem.

At the meeting, Kono also told Ali that Japan plans to provide around ¥200 billion ($1.8 billion) in yen loans to finance infrastructure and other development projects in Bangladesh.