Modi backs Myanmar's bid to end ethnic conflicts

Modi backs Myanmar's bid to end ethnic conflicts

Ahead of the launch of Myanmar’s major initiative to end protracted ethnic conflicts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday conveyed New Delhi’s support to the move in the neighbouring country.

Modi and Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw also agreed to combat terrorism and insurgency in the region together.

“I have also conveyed India’s full support to the peace process initiative under the 21st Century Panglong Conference,” Modi said after a meeting with the Myanmar’s president in New Delhi. Modi said that he and Kyaw had also agreed to work together for the safety and security of people of India and Myanmar, and to actively cooperate to “combat the common challenges of terrorism and insurgent activity” in the region.

Kyaw is on his maiden visit to India as the president of Myanmar. His meeting with Modi was followed by signing of four MoUs, including one for construction of 69 bridges by India on a proposed trilateral highway that would link the country with Thailand through Myanmar and another for construction and improvement of Kalewa–Yagyi road in Myanmar. The two other MoUs are for cooperation in traditional medicine and renewable energy.

The 21st Century Panglong Conference is a conclave being held by the new National League for Democracy government in Nay Pyi Daw from Wednesday. The leaders of a large number of ethnic rebel organisations are likely to attend the meeting and discuss the proposals to end myriad ethnic conflicts and insurgencies plaguing the country over the past several decades.

The conclave is being seen as a significant move by Myanmar’s new government, which is led by Nobel laureate democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi now holds the office of foreign minister and state councilor in the government led by Kyaw. She is, however, perceived to be the de-facto head of the government.

New Delhi is keenly watching the move by the new government in Myanmar as several rebel organisations in the neighbouring country have close ties with the insurgent outfits of north-eastern India.

A faction of the National Socialist Council of India, led by S S Khaplang, is active both in Myanmar and Nagaland state of India. The outfit, however, has not yet joined the peace process in Myanmar.

Modi and Kyaw on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral security and defence cooperation, which, according to them, was crucial for maintaining peace and stability along the long India-Myanmar border. They reaffirmed their shared commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism and insurgent activity in all its forms and manifestations. Both sides reiterated their commitment to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other and to continue practicing the policy of not allowing any insurgent group to use their soil for hostile activities against the other side.

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