Indian role in Myanmar expanding, says US

The US on Thursday said it wants India to work for encouraging democratic reforms in Myanmar and suggested that New Delhi has already begun playing an active role in the South East Asian country. "We have raised Burma in our conversations with Indian interlocutors. We've made very clear to Indian friends that we think India's very important role in the international community gives it a voice," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs told reporters.

Responding to a question on India's role in Myanmar, he said the US had asked India to encourage interlocutors inside the country "to embrace reform, to free political prisoners and to engage more responsibly with the international community". He said the US was mindful and respectful of India's strategic interests in its eastern neighbour, but it wants to work closely all other countries in Southeast Asia on that issue of encouraging Myanmar's military leaders to take more responsible choices.

"Our conversations suggest that Indian friends have taken steps over a period of years and are beginning to play perhaps a more active role in this regard," said Campbell, who early this year was in New Delhi to discuss with Indian officials about its Look East Policy including Myanmar. Campbell said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is headed to Vietnam next week for the annual ASEAN regional forum meeting, would hold a bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna.

The attendees include key states of ASEAN, plus the key members from around the region: Japan, South Korea, China, others, Australia, New Zealand. "During those sessions, we anticipate a very broad and diverse discussion about North Korea; about regional security issues in Southeast Asia; about the importance of architecture, in terms of the American role in the evolving architecture of Asia," he said.

"While in Vietnam, Secretary Clinton will hold a number of bilateral meetings. Those are being scheduled as we speak. There will be a bilateral meeting with Japan, with China, with India, and several others, including some key states in Southeast Asia as well," Campbell said.

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