Illegal Immigrants

US sticking with calling Myanmar minority 'Rohingya'

  • U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel addresses the audience during his first public speech as the ambassador to Myanmar in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Marciel spoke on U.S.- Myanmar relations to an audience including journalists, educators, youth leaders and members of think-tanks. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel addresses the audience during his first public speech as the ambassador to Myanmar in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Marciel spoke on U.S.- Myanmar relations to an audience including journalists, educators, youth leaders and members of think-tanks. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel addresses the audience during his first public speech as the ambassador in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Marciel spoke on U.S.- Myanmar relations to an audience including journalists, educators, youth leaders and members of think-tanks. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel addresses the audience during his first public speech as the ambassador in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Marciel spoke on U.S.- Myanmar relations to an audience including journalists, educators, youth leaders and members of think-tanks. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel listens to a question from the audience after giving his first speech as the ambassador in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Marciel spoke on U.S.- Myanmar relations to an audience including journalists, educators, youth leaders and members of think-tanks. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel listens to a question from the audience after giving his first speech as the ambassador in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Marciel spoke on U.S.- Myanmar relations to an audience including journalists, educators, youth leaders and members of think-tanks. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

Myanmar and the United States appear to have agreed to disagree on what to call the Southeast Asian nation's beleaguered Muslim minority that Washington and most of the world know as Rohingya.

Many Buddhists inside Myanmar prefer to call them "Bengalis," arguing that the 1 million or so members of the minority are mostly illegal immigrants and not a native ethnic group.

U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel explained Tuesday that normal official U.S. practice is to call communities by the name they themselves prefer.

Myanmar foreign ministry official Aye Aye Soe acknowledged his office had asked Marciel not to use the term "Rohingya." He said Marciel has the right to call the minority whatever he likes, but calling them Rohingya could enflame communal tensions.