India is ready to give “all help” was the message given to the Myanmarese leadership by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is in Nay Pyi Daw on the first high-level visit from India after the new government came to power in March following decades of military rule. Swaraj, who called on President U Htin Kyaw, also held talks with State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.
Congratulating Suu Kyi for the victory in the “first genuine election”, Swaraj assured her of “all help”. “India is committed to strengthening your democratic institutions and socio-economic development of your people,” Swaraj said during her meeting with Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party won a historic landslide election last year that finally brought an end to five decades of military rule.
Swaraj said this was the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee. The one-day trip by Swaraj, accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and other senior Ministry of External Affairs officials, is the first high-level visit from India since the civilian government took over earlier this year. Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar and a Nobel laureate besides being a democracy icon, thanked Swaraj for the support. Banned from becoming president by a junta-era Constitution, Suu Kyi has a strong control over the country’s first civilian-led government.
The Constitution effectively bans her from the top post as it rules out anyone with foreign-born children or spouses from becoming president. Suu Kyi married and had two sons with a British national. The military also retains control of the key home, defence and border affairs ministries, while 25 per cent of parliamentary seats are reserved for unelected soldiers. Incidentally, Swaraj’s visit comes just days after Suu Kyi made a high-profile trip to China.
India and Myanmar share close relations with a robust development cooperation programme in areas such as agriculture, IT, human resource development, infrastructure development, culture among others. The visit reaffirms India’s commitment to heighten partnership with Myanmar in the areas of priority by the new government of Myanmar, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.