India and Myanmar today signed seven agreements including one on land border crossing as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed with the top leadership here issues related to peace and security and developments in the Rakhine State from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled to Bangladesh after violence last year.
India and Myanmar today signed seven agreements including one on land border crossing as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed with the top leadership here issues related to peace and security and developments in the Rakhine State from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled to Bangladesh after violence last year. Swaraj, arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit met Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi today and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations across different sectors. Yesterday, she called on Myanmar President U Win Myint.
During the bilateral meetings, boundary and border related issues, peace and security matters, developments in the Rakhine State, including return of displaced persons, India’s development assistance to Myanmar, ongoing projects, and other issues of mutual interest were discussed, an official statement said. She also met the Commander in Chief of the Myanmar Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, during the visit. Seven agreements/MoUs were signed during the visit.
These included agreement on land border crossing, an MoU on restoration and preservation of earthquake damaged pagodas in Bagan, an MoU on assistance to the joint ceasefire monitoring committee, an MoU on training of Myanmar foreign service officers. An MoU on setting up Industrial Training Centre (ITC) at Monywa, an MoU on ITC at Thaton and Exchange of Letters on extending a maintenance contract for ITC Myingyan were also signed.
The agreement on land border crossing is a landmark in bilateral relations as it will enable people from both countries to cross the land border with passport and visa, including for accessing health and education services, pilgrimage and tourism, the statement said. The MoU on restoration of pagodas at Bagan underlines the enduring cultural and historical links between the two countries.
The other MoUs on technical assistance and capacity building reflect India’s continuing support to Myanmar in accordance with this country’s own development plans and priorities. Swaraj also reiterated India’s readiness and commitment to helping the Government of Myanmar in addressing issues related to Rakhine State.
She welcomed the Myanmar government’s continued commitment to implementing the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations and noted that, under the aegis of the bilateral Rakhine State Development Programme, India was already in the implementation stages of various projects that would respond to the needs of different sections of the Rakhine State population.
The first major project is the construction of prefabricated housing in Rakhine State to meet the needs of displaced persons. The Minister also underlined the need for safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons to Rakhine State, the statement said. An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August last year after large-scale violence following a military crackdown.
The exodus of refugees in large numbers has resulted in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh. Myanmar government has faced intense international scrutiny for her response to the exodus, which the UN has called “ethnic cleansing.”