Act East: India, Myanmar bolster counter-terror cooperation, connectivity

burma-modiIndia’s Act East policy is set to be in full flow over the next few days, with substantive talks between the leaders of India and Myanmar setting the tone for New Delhi’s enhanced engagement with ASEAN and East Asian countries.

The first full-spectrum talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw in New Delhi on August 29 will be followed by Mr Modi’s bilateral visit to Vietnam and his participation in ASEAN and East Asia summits in Laos.

In the first high-level engagement with the new government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, Mr Modi’s wide-ranging talks with the Myanmar leader culminated in the signing of four pacts, with India declaring full support to the Southeast Asian country for upgrading its infrastructure. The four pacts encompassed cooperation in connectivity, medicine and renewable energy. “Let me assure you that at every step of the way 1.25 billion people of India will stand by you- Both as partners and as friends,” Mr Modi said after the talks.

“My current visit to India is aimed at enhancing the traditional ties of friendship between the two governments,” Mr Htin Kyaw said. “We thank the people of India for supporting our ongoing reform process and efforts to achieve peace and national reconciliation,” he said.

Focus on counter-terrorism

The focus was on enhancing cooperation in realms of security and connectivity. The pact will enable the two countries to actively cooperate to combat the common challenges of terrorism and insurgent activity in the region and bring them closer in a security partnership. “We recognised that our security interests are closely aligned. And, we agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other’s strategic interests and concerns. To this end, President and I agreed to work together for the safety and security of our people,” said Mr Modi.

The joint statement underlined the commitment of both countries to continue following the policy of not allowing any insurgent group to use their soil for hostile activities against the other side. The two sides also decided to step up Maritime Security Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal.

The connectivity pact signed on August 29 he construction of 69 bridges, including approach roads along the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa section of the trilateral highway in Myanmar. Another pact involves the construction and upgradation of the Kalewa-Yagyi road section, also part of the trilateral highway.