After the conclusion of the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held a meeting with Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin on Monday and paid a visit to President U Thein Sein. She also visited the newly-constructed Myanmar Parliament and met Speaker Thura Shwe Mann.
“In the past two-and-a-half months, I have accompanied the Prime Minister to Bhutan and have myself visited Bangladesh, Nepal and now Myanmar. The neighbouring states that are left will be covered over the next few months. The visits to our neighbouring countries are especially important in light of security issues and threats,” she said.
President Thein Sein told Swaraj that Myanmar has been closely following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat development model and that it was “also applicable to Myanmar”.
Swaraj raised the issue of insurgent outfits and outfits banned by India setting up bases in Myanmar during her meeting with Lwin. “Though political leadership of Myanmar has been maintaining that Myanmar does not and will never allow groups whose interests pose a threat to India to operate, the ground reality is very different. I have told the foreign minister that these groups pose a threat not only to India but to Myanmar as well and that they need to be handled sternly,” she said.
Swaraj also raised India’s concerns regarding the displaced Rohingya Muslims.
Addressing the issue of China’s increasing presence in Myanmar, Swaraj said, “We have very good relations with Myanmar. I have discussed matters relating to PIOs here as well as visas issued between the two countries. We don’t need to compare ourselves with China.” Implying that India’s position on the South China Sea has been firm, she said that “no such issue should be resolved through conflict and war” but through peaceful dialogue. “This is my first such event and I have placed India’s stand firmly before the various forums,’’ she said.
Both foreign ministers discussed connectivity projects, including land, maritime and air connectivity and the much awaited trilateral highway which will connect India-Myanmar-Thailand to facilitate people-to-people contact and trade. “I have suggested that a direct flight be started from Delhi-Bodhgaya-Yangon. Right now, flights to Myanmar are all through Bangkok. We need to rectify this,’’she said.