PM Modi and Aung San Suu Kyi discuss India-Myanmar ties; talk on border security, development

Myanmar Foreign Minister and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is on a four-day visit to India. After attending the Brics-Bimstec Outreach Summit in Goa, the de facto leader of Myanmar met President Pranab Mukherjee and held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday. She met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup called Suu Kyi "an old friend of the East" and tweeted that the Prime Minister and Myanmar State Counsellor are deliberating on the details of a developmental partnership.

Modi in the press conference welcomed Suu Kyi to her "second home" and said that her clear vision, mature leadership and struggle has inspired people across the world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

In his brief address, Modi announced India's cooperation programme and India will support its neighbour as Suu Kyi leads her country to become a "modern and prosperous nation". He said that the two countries have agreed on security coordination in border areas and sensitivity to each other's strategic interests.

Suu Kyi called India "the greatest democracy in the world" in her press briefing and said that Myanmar is a young democracy, "The time has come for us to say that, yes we can do this".

This is her maiden visit to India after the National League for Democracy came to power in March. Suu Kyi told a television channel on Tuesday that though terrorism in any form is unacceptable, there is a need to lay down the principles of surgical strikes as it is also a violent form of attack.

"I don't think we should lay down our principles saying that all surgical strikes are acceptable. We have to look at these instances case by case, otherwise we will be on a slippery slope of deciding that all strikes are acceptable," she said according to PTI.

Myanmar itself has been struggling to tackle the crisis over Rohingya Muslim situation. The longstanding discrimination by majority Buddhists against Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine exploded into violence in 2012. More than 1,00,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, are still in displacement camps. Buddhist nationalists have sought to brand the group as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, while the movement of Rohingya living in camps are severely restricted. Suu Kyi has been criticised by some human rights activists for not speaking out forcefully in support of the Rohingya.

On 12 October, 12 people died in the north of Myanmar's Rakhine state in clashes between armed men and troops.

It's hardly a surprise that Suu Kyi held a discussion with Swaraj on India's role in supporting Myanmar's agenda of national reconciliation. MEA sources told PTI that the two leaders also discussed socio-economic development and strengthening democracy.

"The Myanmar state counsellor outlined her priorities in the areas of agriculture, training, capacity building, job creation, infrastructure and health care and sought India's assistance in these areas. Swaraj in turn offered all possible assistance from India," the official source said.

At the Brics-Bimstec Outreach Summit in Goa, Suu Kyi said that the Bimstec region was confronted with numerous security threats, including terrorism, climate change, natural and man-made disasters.

She called for collective stepping up of pressure on human trafficking, which she said was "modern day slavery and "one of the most pervasive human rights violations".

"We need to step up to intensity in the global efforts to combat global trafficking in a collective and a concerted manner," she said.

Brahma Chellaney wrote for The Times of India that Suu Kyi's first major state visit was to Beijing in an attempt to smooth bilateral ties with China. He writes that Myanmar is an important ally to India and should have a proactive policy of implementing projects and promoting trade between the two countries "to help reduce the salience of Chinese influence".

According to The Irrawaddy, "Burma will re-engage India under a new government that is obviously struggling to rebalance its strategic relations with powerful China."

While Suu Kyi's India visit will redefine bilateral ties between the countries, Myanmar has to do the balancing act to keep Beijing and New Delhi happy, as Rajiv Bhatia writes for Hindustan Times, "She (Suu Kyi) may have a delicate role to play, especially now when India-China relations are under marked stress."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Oct 19, 2016 15:22:45 IST

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