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Myanmar pledges to cooperate with India on insurgency issue.

Date: 23-08-2016
Subject: Myanmar pledges to cooperate with India on insurgency issue
New Delhi: India on Monday secured an assurance from the Myanmar government that its territory would not be used against the country, in the backdrop of news reports that militants operating in India’s north-east were using Myanmar as a base to launch operations.

The assurance was given by Myanmar’s state counsellor and foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi of the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government, which was installed in March, to Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during their meeting in Naypyidaw, said a person familiar with the developments, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“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,” this person said.

The assurance comes just a day after a news report in The Indian Express on Sunday said Indian army personnel had entered Myanmar in an operation against militants belonging to the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN)’s Khaplang faction. India had in August last year signed a peace pact with another NSCN faction.

One of the reasons cited by India to begin engagement with the Burmese military regime in the early 1990s was its security concerns vis-à-vis its north-east. India, which backed Aung San Suu Kyi in the late 1980s and early 1990s, switched tracks when it realized that rebels operating in the north-east were using Myanmar as a base to launch hit-and-run attacks.

There are myriad insurgent groups operating in the north-east, with demands ranging from autonomy to secession from India. That many of these groups use bases in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar for their activities has made India place security high on the agenda while forging closer links with these countries.

In the case of Myanmar, there have been many instances of Indian and Burmese troops jointly launching anti-militant operations on its territory.

In June last year, the Indian army said it had conducted a military operation along the India-Myanmar border to take out militant camps, but it is widely believed that the operation took place inside Burmese territory.

With the NLD government—deemed the first democratically elected government in five decades—taking office in March, it was unsure whether it would follow the same policies vis-à-vis India as the military-led governments before it.

Swaraj, who was on a one-day visit to Myanmar, met President U Htin Kyaw, as well as Suu Kyi, said the person cited earlier.

“Discussions were held in a very cordial and friendly atmosphere as befitting the traditionally close ties and strong people-to-people links between the two countries. Myanmar leaders were deeply appreciative of the fact that Swaraj represented the first cabinet-level dignitary to pay a visit to Myanmar after the new government took office,” the person said.

Swaraj “expressed fullest support to the new Myanmar government in its efforts to meet its developmental goals in the country. Both sides agreed to make efforts to ensure peace and security along the long shared border,” the person said.

Suu Kyi also briefed Swaraj on plans by her government to launch peace talks with rebels operating along Myanmar’s border with China in the north of the country.

The subject was a major topic of discussion during Suu Kyi’s visit to China last week. According to a report in The New York Times, China wields influence with several rebel groups and Suu Kyi reportedly got assurances that at least three of them would join the peace talks slated for 31 August.

Swaraj “conveyed India’s full support to this process and said India stands ready to extend any necessary help”, said the person cited earlier.

“Both sides agreed to work together to identify new areas of cooperation where there is much untapped potential. This includes areas such as agriculture especially pulses (that India imports from Myanmar), power (India is already supplying 3 megawatts of electricity to Myanmar through the Moreh-Tamu link), renewable energy, skill development, health, education, transport and social development,” the person said.

“The Myanmar side expressed appreciation for the training that 20 Myanmar MPs had recently received at the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training in New Delhi. The president of Myanmar said that ‘India is the country we should get best lessons from on what democracy means’,” the person said.

Source : livemint.com

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