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Myanmar at the Intersection of Neighbourhood First, Act East for India

Published Dec 08, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

Indian Foreign Secretary reiterated, Myanmar is at the intersection of our ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies during the 18thround of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Myanmar held in New Delhi on 6 December 2019.

The Indian delegation was led by Foreign Secretary, Shri Vijay Gokhale and the Myanmar delegation was led by Permanent Secretary, U Soe Han.

The two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, the status of India’s ongoing projects in Myanmar, capacity building initiatives, bilateral trade relations, border cooperation and plans to enhance implementation of bilateral agreements.

Foreign Secretary reiterated the priority India attaches to its partnership with Myanmar, a neighbour and an ASEAN partner which is at the intersection of our ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies. The Myanmar Permanent Secretary equally reaffirmed the high priority his Government attaches to relations with India, which were based on historic and civilizational contact.

He also expressed appreciation for the development assistance and capacity building support offered by India especially in recent years. He welcomed the fact that today, bilateral ties were at the highest ever level.

During his stay in India, the Permanent Secretary of Myanmar will also visit Bodh Gaya.

The consultations come days after Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi met State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar on the margins of the ASEAN-India Summit on November 03, 2019. The Press Release noted that the, “The two Leaders agreed that a stable and peaceful border was an important anchor for the continued expansion of our partnership. Prime Minister emphasized the value India attaches to Myanmar’s cooperation in ensuring that insurgent groups do not find space to operate across the India-Myanmar border”.

This assertion comes amidst concerns that the Naga groups such as the NSCN IM may be shifting their base to Myanmar after having finalised an accord with the Indian Government interlocutor by 31 October though the final agreement is yet to be inked.

Myanmar has been cooperating with India by undertaking operations by the Tatmadaw – Myanmar Army to evict terrorist groups active in the North East from their bases across the border. However firm action be required in case the NSCN IM the largest group in the region decides to move base to Myanmar

Meanwhile on the connectivity the leaders 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 the plans of the Government of India to host a business event for the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) in Yangon at the end of November 2019. State Counsellor Daw Suu Kyi reaffirmed the importance her Government attached 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.

With regard to the situation in Rakhine, following the completion of the first Indian project to build 250 prefabricated houses–which were handed over to the Myanmar Government this July–PM expressed India’s readiness to carry out more socio-economic projects in this State. PM emphasized 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 States: India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The two Leaders agreed to maintain the tempo of high level interactions in the year ahead, recognizing that strong ties across all pillars of cooperation were in the fundamental interests of both countries.