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India, Myanmar to forge strategic t

India, Myanmar to forge strategic ties

The Hindu (New Delhi)
November 17, 2000

By Atul Aneja

NEW DELHI, NOV. 16. driven by a policy decision to reach out to its
eastern neighbourhood, India has decided to forge a strategic
partnership with Myanmar.

New Delhi and Yangon are expected to flag off the new turn in their
relationship during the India-visit of General Maung Aye, the Myanmar
Vice Chairman of State Peace and Development Organisation.

The importance which India attaches to this visit is evident form the
red carpet welcome which Gen. Aye is being accorded. Though invited by
the Vice President of India, Gen. Aye will be given a ceremonial
reception of befitting a head of State. He will be received tomorrow at
the for court of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Highly place sources here point out that the high profile welcome is
mainly on account of India?s recognition that Myanmar?s strategic
location is central for promoting its look- east policy. A special
relationship with Myanmar is the centerpiece of its policy to establish
close physical and economic links with its eastern neighbours. ?We no
longer look at south-east Asia as an ?extended neighbourhood?. It is
indeed our neighbourhood as endowed to us by geography which we have
failed to recognize?, the sources said.

Sandwiched between South and Sough East Asia, Myanmar is a natural ?land
bridge? linking the tow regions and India is keen to exploit this
location by building cross-border roads into Myanmar. By carving new
communication links, India, in turn can also be connected to locations
in the South East Asian heartland and beyond. India is already building
a road which will link the state of Manipur with Myanmar. This road
which will be apart of trans-Asian highway network which will terminate
at the Myanmarese communication hub of Kalemyo.

Myanmar also acquires a prominent position on India?s energy security
map. Discussions at a technical level are continuing on the possible
transfer of natural gas from Myanmar into India. There is also a
proposal aimed at creating a network of pipelines passing though Myanmar
and then along the territory of Bangladesh into India. India, keen to
diversity its oil and gas procurements, is likely to back such a

India also recognizes Myanmar?s importance in strengthening its national
security. New Delhi is looking for joint operations with Myanmar to curb
north-east insurgents who have found safe havens in its jungles.

The reported Chinese military activity in Myanmar is a matter of concern
to India. National security interests demand that the Bay of Bengal
area, which also straddles Myanmar, does not become a hotbed of
interference by foreign navies. India is keeping a close watch on the
Coco islands in Myanmar where Chinese activity has been reported in the