Myanmar President holds talks with PM Modi

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on as Myanmar's President, U Htin Kyaw speaks during a joint statement at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Monday. PTI Photo

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on as Myanmar’s President, U Htin Kyaw speaks during a joint statement at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Monday. PTI Photo

Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw, who is in India for the past couple of days, held wide-ranging extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday morning.

India promised whole-hearted support to Myanmar in “every step” of its journey as it sets out on a new path after decades of military rule.

The two sides inked four MoUs to boost cooperation in areas of connectivity, medicine and renewable energy, besides resolving to deepen ties in a range of other sectors, including agriculture, banking and power.

The two countries also resolved to deepen ties and actively cooperate to combat terrorism and insurgent activities in the region.

This was the first top level engagement between the two countries after iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy stormed into power, ending decades of military rule.

“We recognised that our security interests are closely aligned. And, we agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other’s strategic interests and concerns…To this end, President and I agreed to work together for the safety and security of our people. And, actively cooperate to combat the common challenges of terrorism and insurgent activity in our region,” PM Modi said while reading out the statement in a press briefing.

Reassuring India’s support to Myanmar, PM Modi said India wants to take the relationship to “new heights”, adding “A bright future for Myanmar is not just your objective. It is also our aspiration.”

The talks gave a boost to bilateral ties, particularly in areas of trade and investment. Both countries are also looking to enhance management of the over 1,600 km- long Indo-Myanmar border which mostly criss-crosses militancy affected northeastern region.

Calling Myanmar a “bridge” that connects India with South East Asia, Modi said “our discussions today have enabled us to evolve a road map and an action agenda for our cooperation.”

The Myanmarese President on his part said his government wants to strengthen ties with India.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Myanmarese President.

This is Htin Kyaw’s first overseas trip after assuming charge of the top office five months ago. He arrived in the Buddhist town of Gaya on Saturday where he visited Buddhist shrines including the the most sacred Mahabodhi temple. On Sunday, he had travelled to Agra to see the Taj Mahal along with his wife.

The Myanmarese President is accompanied by his wife, Daw Su Su Lwin, and a high-level delegation comprising several key ministers and top officials.

China has been increasing its footprint in Myanmar and making huge investments in several major projects. India too sees Myanmar as a strategic neighbour.

Last week, when Swaraj had visited the Myanmar, she had conveyed to its leadership that India was ready to provide “all help” to the country in its march ahead.

Initially India was supportive of Suu Kyi’s fight for democracy but driven by economic and security interests, it had warmed up to the military regime, inviting criticism from her.

Suu Kyi, who is the de facto leader of the new government, will also pay a visit here later this year to attend a conclave of regional grouping BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).

The Myanmarese President will meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday evening before leaving the country. Earlier today, he received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

(With inputs from PTI)