India, Myanmar sign 10 pacts with focus on development of conflict-torn Rakhine state

PTI

President Kovind welcomes President U Win Myint of Myanmar at Rashtrapati Bhavan (Twitter image)

President Kovind welcomes President U Win Myint of Myanmar at Rashtrapati Bhavan (Twitter image)

India and Myanmar signed 10 agreements on Thursday with a focus on the socio-economic development of the southeast Asian nation’s conflict-torn Rakhine state as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Myanmarese President U Win Myint.

The two countries also vowed to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation.

The Myanmarese president, who arrived in India on Wednesday, received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He and First Lady Daw Cho Cho were welcomed by President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Modi.

The prime minister and President Myint later held talks at Hyderabad House and 10 agreements were signed between the two countries. The focus of many agreements was on development projects under India’s assistance, particularly in the conflict-torn Rakhine state.

The agreements included an MoU on ‘Cooperation for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons; Rescue, Recovery, Repatriation and Re-Integration of Victims of Trafficking’.

An agreement regarding Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP) was also signed between the two sides.

Three agreements for development projects in the conflict-torn Rakhine state were also signed during the president’s visit. The Rakhine state has witnessed a lot of violence in the past and scores of Rohingyas had fled the state facing persecution.

A joint statement on the Myanmarese President’s visit said India reiterated its commitment to support Myanmar’s efforts for promoting peace, stability and the socio-economic development in Rakhine State through the Rakhine State Development Programme.

Myanmar appreciated India’s provision of 250 pre-fabricated houses and relief materials for displaced persons in northern Rakhine in 2019.

Both sides agreed to expedite the implementation of a set of 12 projects under the second phase of the Rakhine State Development Programme and to further strengthen their development cooperation within the framework of High Impact Community Development Projects and Quick Impact Projects under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation mechanism.

India also expressed its support for the bilateral agreements signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the repatriation of the displaced persons from Rakhine State and hoped that Myanmar and Bangladesh would continue to work together for voluntary, sustainable and speedy repatriation of displaced people currently in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh to Myanmar in accordance with their bilateral agreements, the statement said.

Recognizing the threat posed by terrorism, the both sides agreed to cooperate in countering terrorist groups and their actions.

They condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and emphasised on the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence, the statement said.

Both sides reiterated that defence and security cooperation remains one of the key pillars of Myanmar-India bilateral relations, it said.

During the interactions, the leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest.

They welcomed the synergy between Myanmar’s independent, active and non-aligned foreign policy and India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies, and reaffirmed their commitments to further strengthen partnership, explore new avenues of cooperation in order to expand bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples.

Both sides reiterated their mutual respect for the already-demarcated portion of the boundary between the two countries and affirmed their commitments to settle pending issues through the existing bilateral mechanisms, such as the Joint Boundary Working Group Meeting, the statement said.

The Myanmarese President and his wife also paid respects to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. President Myint and the Myanmarese delegation will also be visiting places of historical and cultural importance, including Bodh Gaya and Agra.

(PTI)