BANGKOK: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed to Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi about the importance India attaches to her country’s cooperation in ensuring that insurgent groups do not find space to operate across the India-Myanmar border.
Prime Minister Modi also conveyed to Suu Kyi about India’s readiness to expand its socio-economic projects in the country’s Rakhine state, months after New Delhi implemented a housing project in the restive province.
Modi made the proposal during a meeting with Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit on Sunday.
In the talks, Modi also emphasised that the speedy, safe and sustainable return from Bangladesh of displaced people to their homes in Rakhine State was in the interests of the region, the displaced persons, and all three neighbouring countries — India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
The two leaders also agreed that a stable and peaceful border was an important anchor for the continued expansion of bilateral partnership and that prime minister Modi emphasised the value India attaches to Myanmar’s cooperation in ensuring that insurgent groups do not find space to operate across the India-Myanmar border.
Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.
According to security agencies, there were over 50 camps of insurgent groups from the north-east in Myanmar till last year.
The armies of India and Myanmar carried out a three-week-long coordinated operation from May 16 in their respective border areas, targeting several militant groups operating in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.
Defence sources said that during the “Operation Sunrise 2” in May, the armies coordinated with each other to bust camps of militant outfits, including the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), the NSCN (Khaplang), the United Liberation Front of Assam (I) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB).
In June 2015, the Indian Army had carried out an operation against NSCN(K) militants in areas near the Indo-Myanmar border, days after militants killed 18 armymen in Manipur.
In the talks, Modi also emphasised that the speedy, safe and sustainable return of the displaced people from Bangladesh to their homes in the Rakhine State was in the interests of the region, the displaced persons, and all three neighbouring countries — India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State since 2017 after large-scale violence following a military crackdown. The exodus of refugees in large numbers has resulted in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh.
In July, India handed over to Myanmar government 250 prefabricated houses, it built in the Rakhine State in an effort to encourage the Rohingya Muslims to return to their homeland.
The MEA said the prime minister expressed India’s readiness to carry out more socio-economic projects in the Rakhine State.
According to the MEA, Suu Kyi reaffirmed the importance her government attaches to the partnership with India, and her appreciation of India’s consistent and sustained support for the widening of democracy and deepening of development in Myanmar.
In the deliberations, Modi emphasised the priority India attaches to Myanmar as a partner at the crossroads of India’s Look East Policy and the neighbourhood first policies.
“Towards this end, he emphasised India’s continuing commitment to improve physical connectivity to and through Myanmar to Southeast Asia, including through building road, port and other infrastructure,” the MEA statement said.
“India would also continue to strongly support the expansion of capacity for Myanmar’s police, military and civil servants, as well as its students and citizens,” it added.
The two leaders also agreed that people to people connectivity would help expand the base of the partnership, and therefore welcomed the expansion of air connectivity between the two countries, and the growing interest of India’s businesses in Myanmar, including India’s plans to host a business event for the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) in Yangon next month.
Modi arrived here on a three-day visit on Saturday to attend ASEAN-India, the East Asia and the RCEP summits. PTI