Myanmar has offered to take back all the Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh in a significant advancement in the regional issue. However, the entire operation will be carried out in phases.

A visiting Myanmar minister told Bangladesh's president that his country is "ready" to accept the returning ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar are estimated to have fled the country since August 2017 when intense unrest broke out due to the security crackdown launched by the country's military forces in the restive Rakhine state.

To address the crisis, Myanmar's Home Minister Kyaw Swe is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, holding talks with top authorities. Speaking to Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid, he said Myanmar is ready to implement the recommendations of a panel led by former UN chief Kofi Annan and also accept the refugees.

"He (Swe) also said his government will implement the recommendations by the Kofi Annan Commission gradually," the Bangladeshi presidential office said in a statement.

Joynal Abedin, spokesman for the presidential office, quoted the Bangladeshi president as responding during the meeting, "The forcefully displaced Rohingya nationals of Myanmar are a major problem for Bangladesh."

He also urged Myanmar, which has been facing serious criticism from all over the world over the handling of the matter, to take necessary steps to ensure a safe return for the Rohingyas.

Swe is set to hold talks with his counterpart on Friday, 16 February, and also hold a series of discussions with other officials.

The ethnic Rohingyas, who have been persecuted in a systematic manner for the past few years in Myanmar, are often considered as a stateless minority and are branded as illegal immigrants in the Buddhist-majority country.

Rohingya Myanmar camp Maungdaw Rakhine
A Myanmar policeman stands outside a camp set up by the country's government to prepare for the repatriation of Rohingyas, near Maungdaw in Rakhine state Reuters file photo