International Secretary, Military Chief to go to Myanmar

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 3

After touching base with Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane will visit Myanmar for two days from Sunday as India seeks to  review and consolidate security and developmental partnership issues with its neighbourhood bar Pakistan.

The Foreign Secretary and the Army Chief will call on State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

The visit by the two officials, an unusual combination on a diplomatic visit as far as India is concerned, will be attempting to consolidate ties on four vectors.

Under the Border Area Development Programme, India has extended $ 5 million annual assistance, being provided since 2012 till 2022. The programme has seen the successful implementation of around 140 largely community development projects. Undertaken in Chin State and Naga Self-Administered Zone, both sides will now identify projects to be undertaken in the next cycle.

Under the Rakhine State Development Programme, India has provided five tranches of relief supplies to Bangladesh and is willing to do more.

India is also providing library material to schools in Rakhine state under trilateral cooperation with Japan, a partnership it is keen to promote further in order to keep out China.

India and Myanmar have also been cooperating in a number of other developmental projects especially the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and Trilateral Highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand.

With investments of over $1.2 billion, Myanmar has the highest Indian investment from a South Asian country. Recently India approved an investment of over $ 120 million in the Shwe Oil and Gas project.

Indian PSUs are active in the upstream and midstream sector. ONGC Videsh, Indian Oil and GAIL have opened offices in Yangon and OVL and GAIL have stakes in the Shwe Gas Field. GAIL is exporting petrochemical products to Myanmar.

Indian private sector players are also active in Myanmar. India and Myanmar are also looking to cooperate in the area of energy efficiency.

India has also offered technical and financial help to Myanmar for the conservation and restoration of Pagodas in Bagan damaged due to an earthquake. The project cost for the first phase of restoring a dozen pagodas is Rs 21 crore for the first phase. Prominent is the conservation and restoration of the Ananda Temple at a cost of Rs 11.54 crore.

India has also undertaken the renovation of stone inscription temples and Zayat of King Bagyidaw and King Mindon at Bodh Gaya under full MEA funding.

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