India, Myanmar agree to maintain border peace, security
NAY PYI TAW, AUGUST 22 : After the heavy exchange of fire between the Indian Army and the banned insurgent outfit NSCN (Khaplang) last week in Nagaland along the India-Myanmar border, both countries on Monday agreed to maintain peace and security along the international border.
This was agreed to during meetings External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi during her day-long visit to Nay Pyi Taw.
“Both sides agreed to make efforts to ensure peace and security along the long shared border,” sources here said. “The Myanmar side stated that activities of insurgent groups would not be countenanced from Myanmar territory and suggested that this issue should be addressed and taken forward through cooperation in established bilateral forums,” they said. Heavy exchange of fire took place on Friday between the Indian Army and the NSCN (K) after the soldiers allegedly raided some of the villages along the Indo-Myanmar border.
According to the state police, the incident took place at about 4 a.m. near Chenmoho in Mon district in Nagaland which shares its eastern border with Myanmar.
Though some reports said that the Indian forces crossed into the Myanmar side in pursuit of the insurgents, authorities have denied this. This is the first cabinet-level visit from India to Myanmar after Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) assumed power in March this year, a gesture that Myanmar leaders have appreciated, the sources said.
She expressed fullest support to the new Myanmar government in its efforts to meet its developmental goals in the country. Suu Kyi warmly recalled her long association with India and with Indian personalities.
“She briefed the External Affairs Minister on the preparations for the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference for National Reconciliation,” the sources said.
“The External Affairs Minister conveyed India’s full support to this process and said India stands ready to extend any necessary help.” Both sides also agreed to work together to identify new areas of cooperation where there is much untapped potential. “This includes areas such as agriculture especially pulses, power, renewable energy, skill development, health, education, transport and social development,” the sources said.
India is already supplying 3 MW of electricity to Myanmar through the Moreh-Tamu link from the northeastern state of Manipur. The Myanmar side also expressed appreciation for the training that 20 Myanmar MPs had recently received at the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training in New Delhi.
President U Htin Kyaw was quoted as saying: “India is the country we should get best lessons from on what democracy means.”
India’s Act East Policy also came up for discussion and both sides agreed that it fitted neatly into Myanmar’s needs and as such areas of mutually-beneficial cooperation should be identified in the near future.
According to the sources, Sushma Swaraj extended invitations to both the President and the state Counsellor to visit India at their earliest convenience, which were accepted. Meanwhile, Myanmar military authorities have denied that there was a recent exchange of gunfire on its soil between Indian army and a rebellion ethnic group – the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang)), the media reported on Monday.
The denial referred to some media reports that the Army entered Myanmar territory and fought with the NSCN-K on August 19 and that the fighting lasted for three hours, Xinhua news agency reported.
Myanmar military’s information quoted witnesses as saying that the gun battle between NSCN-K and NSCN-IM occurred inside India, one mile west of the Myanmar-India border, and not in Myanmar.
However, Myanmar military columns on the border were on full alert to ward off foreign troops from entering the country, the military authorities said. Myanmar would neither accept nor encourage any armed group to station on its soil to potentially terrorise the government, it said. The authorities insisted that Myanmar armed forces was working in tandem with Indian army and rendering cooperation in patrolling the border and exchanging information.
In June 2015, there were clashes between the Indian army and the rebel group near Myanmar-India border. Myanmar army then assured India of not tolerating any rebel groups active on its soil.