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India, Myanmar Seek Closer Ties With an Eye on China

Jan. 22, 2013 - 10:40AM   |  
By Vivek Raghuvanshi   |   Comments
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NEW DELHI — India and neighboring Myanmar are working on a roadmap of border management, a move seen by analysts here as an effort to check China’s entry into the Indian Ocean Region.

“China already has a military base on leased land of Coco islands by Myanmar, but New Delhi wants to better military and diplomatic ties with Myanmar,” says Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here.

The matter was discussed during the Jan. 21-22 visit of Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony to Myanmar, said an Indian Defence Ministry official. Antony was accompanied by a high-level delegation, comprising Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma; Lt. Gen D Suhag, general officer in charge of Indian Eastern Army Command; and Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Adm. R. Dhowan.

“Both sides [India and Myanmar] will discuss modalities for improving mechanisms for patrolling by their own forces along land and maritime boundaries in order to curb activities of insurgent groups and other illegal and criminal activities in these areas. Both sides are agreed that neither should allow their territory to be used for activities detrimental to the security of the other. Both countries have agreed to conduct periodic coordinated land and maritime patrols,” says the Indian Defence Ministry statement.

India and Myanmar are also discussing ways to hold joint patrols along their border to check infiltration of insurgents into the northeastern states of India.

“India has extended itself to having good relations with neighboring Myanmar to curb the growing influence of China in the region. Despite a military government in Myanmar for the last two decades, New Delhi has built diplomatic relations with Myanmar mainly with an eye on China,” says defense analyst Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.

Last year, days before a visit to New Delhi, Myanmar President Thein Sein announced the halting of a $3.6 billion proposed hydroelectric project in Kachin State to be jointly built with China, a move that irked Beijing.

India and Myanmar, meanwhile, have also agreed to undertake a project to meet the energy requirements of Myanmar, a move seen as compensation for the loss of the proposed Chinese hydroelectric project, said an Indian Ministry of External Affairs source.

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