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Nay Pyi Taw

Myanmar has been welcomed back into the international fold after promising sweeping reforms.

Written by Anil Sasi | Nay Pyi Taw | Published: November 14, 2014 1:39 am

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev here on Thursday morning. The meeting, Modi’s first diplomatic engagement on the third day of his 10-day three-nation tour, came just ahead of next month’s Indo-Russia summit. At the meeting, Medvedev reiterated that India is a “valued” partner for his country

“India is a close and valued partner for us,” Medvedev told Modi while discussing the Indo-Russian engagements during their meeting at the Myanmar International Conference Centre here hours ahead of the East Asia Summit that got underway here on Thursday.

Modi also met the President of the Philippines Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, the Premier of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang, and the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo.

During his meeting with Modi, the Philippine president assured the Prime Minister that the internal process for signing the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement was “well underway”.

The Prime Minister congratulated Indonesian President Joko Widodo on his win during his bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) — a broader gathering of the 10 ASEAN countries and eight other nations, including the United States, China, Russia and India. Created in 2005, the EAS originally had 16 members: the 10 ASEAN members, the ASEAN ‘plus three’ (China, Japan and South Korea) and India, Australia and New Zealand. In 2011, the United States and the Russian Federation joined in.

In the increasingly overcrowded Asian regional architecture, the EAS was created to provide a leaders’ level meeting that had a broad policy remit, as against say the just concluded APEC meet in Beijing, which has a narrow focus on economic matters.

US President Barack Obama, who flew in to Nay Pyi Taw last night for the EAS, however triggered a minor diplomatic controversy here after accusing the Myanmarese government of backsliding on reforms, just hours ahead of this scheduled talks with President U Thein Sein.

Obama who was here for the EAS, which followed Wednesday’s ASEAN meeting, said that reform momentum had slowed in Myanmar and that there had even been some steps backwards, in an interview with a Thai-based Burmese publication ahead of his arrival. “Burma is still at the beginning of a long and hard journey of renewal and reconciliation,” Obama said in the interview with The Irrawaddy magazine.

Myanmar has been welcomed back into the international fold after promising sweeping reforms.

The ASEAN and East Asia summits held in the remote capital city of Nay Pyi Taw are the culmination of a year of diplomatic highs for Myanmar, after having long been relegated to the sidelines under its former military rulers.

The other key issues discussed at the Summit include the continuing wrangling among several ASEAN members and China over control of territory in the South China Sea and a broad declaration on the Islamic State terror.

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