President Mohammed Shahabuddin on Thursday called upon the international community to urgently find a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis to commence safe, voluntary and sustainable repatriation as shortage of humanitarian support may put the entire region at risk.

"It is the collective responsibility of the international community to find a durable solution to this crisis in its place of origin in Myanmar. Further delay to commence safe, voluntary and sustainable repatriation and shortage of humanitarian support may put the entire region at risk," he said.

The president said this at the inauguration ceremony of 18th East Asia Summit at Jakarta Convention Centre in the Indonesian capital.

He said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sheltered 1.2 million forcibly displaced people from Myanmar on humanitarian ground. Even in the 7th year of the crisis, there is no solution in sight whereas Bangladesh is pushed to the limits.

The president said Bangladesh wishes to enhance its relations with ASEAN and institutionalize it by becoming ASEAN's Sectoral Dialogue Partner.

"There are many sectors including trade, investment, trans-national security issues, climate change where ASEAN and Bangladesh can cooperate. If we get ASEAN's Sectoral Dialogue Partner status, there would be mutual benefits in many areas through increased economic cooperation, access to regional markets, strengthened regional integration, exchange of knowledge and best practices, enhanced regional security cooperation; and cultural and people-to-people exchanges," he added.

President Shahabuddin said this status would open up ample opportunities for both sides and promote Bangladesh's relations with ASEAN.

Saying that the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has evolved into an important regional forum on shared values and mutual cooperation, he said it has provided a platform for cooperation in six priority areas and two cross-cutting issues with possibilities for even more.

"The region - linked by commerce for centuries - is still at the center of global trade and investment flows. IORA can reap benefits from most of the emerging connectivity options and ASEAN is on top of this list," he added.

He said he is elated to see the institutionalization of co-operation between ASEAN and IORA and warmly welcomed the newly signed Mol between them.

"I believe it will be an important mechanism to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation," he also said.

He mentioned that Bangladesh has made significant contributions in preparing the IORA Outlook on the Indo-Pacific during its Chairship.

He also believed that IORA's engagement in the Indo-Pacific region would ensure a fair, equitable and sustainable trade and investment environment that would enhance economic growth and cooperation while building resilient regional and global value chains.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian and Oceanian regions, based on the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism. Membership expanded to 18 countries including Russia and the United States at the Sixth EAS in 2011. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.

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