Modi seeks Myanmar’s cooperation against insurgent groups
Bangkok, Nov. 4 (PTI): A stable and peaceful border is an “important anchor” for the continued expansion of bilateral partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed to Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and has sought her country’s cooperation against insurgent groups finding a 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, according to a press release by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
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 MEA said.
The two leaders also agreed that a stable and peaceful border was an important anchor for the continued expansion of bilateral partnership.
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, the release said.
Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of north-eastern 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.
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 carried out an operation against NSCN (K) militants in areas near the Indo-Myanmar border, days after militants killed 18 armymen in Manipur.
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.