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India, Myanmar discuss security

India, Myanmar discuss security

>From The Hindu Newspaper
By Atul Aneja

 NEW DELHI, NOV. 18. In forging a new security relationship with
Myanmar, India has factored in Yangon's military ties with China and

 According to highly-placed sources in the Government, India, in its
deliberations with Myanmarese leaders on Friday, worked hard to draw a
common security agenda, which steered clear of Yangon's military
relationship with both China and Pakistan. ``The formulation guiding
discussions was that India and Myanmar are partners in mission. That
means that there is a need to identify a common security agenda which
can then be jointly addressed,'' the sources said.

 During discussions with a delegation led by Myanmar's Vice- Chairman of
the State Peace and Development Organisation, General Maung Aye, the two
sides identified a deep common interest in undertaking
counter-insurgency operations and decided to accelerate cooperation. The
Indian side was also conscious of Myanmar's security ties with China and

 In fact, it is debating the limits within which it can accommodate
these relationships without compromising its national security
interests. New Delhi, according to sources, is not unduly perturbed so
long as Myanmar's security relationship with China does not have a
negative slant towards India.

 Specifically, India is looking at the geographic sweep of China's
military ties with Myanmar. Security planners feel that as long as
Chinese military influence does not extend beyond the left bank of the
Chindwin river, New Delhi need not be unduly worried. The Chindwin flows
west of Myanmar's legendary 2,240 km long Irrawady, which vertically
splits Myanmar into nearly two equal halves. Any movement beyond the
Chindwin, will therefore bring China closer towards India's north-east
borders. India is also concerned about China's capacity to carry out
surveillance either in the sensitive north-east or along the strategic
Bay of Bengal.

 According to sources, Myanmar has so far not provided China any access
west of the Chindwin. Despite a special relationship, it has not
permitted Beijing establish military bases on its soil. China, however,
has mounted a 250-km range surveillance radar on Myanmar's Coco islands.
Sources also pointed to Chinese assistance in developing Myanmar's
Hainggyi and Za Det Kyi naval bases. Besides, China is a key supplier of
military equipment to Myanmar and is developing a heavy weapons factory
in the Mangwe division.

 Arms from Pak.

 India, so far, does not appear to be unduly concerned about Pakistan's
military equation with Myanmar. Unlike China, the relationship between
Islamabad and Yangon has been hardware- oriented and has not acquired
any ``strategic'' dimensions.

 Pakistan has supplied arms worth $2.5 million in March-April last year
and is negotiating a deal for training Myanmarese divers specialising in
fixing underwater mines.

 Indian security concerns will arise only if Islamabad is allowed to
position its personnel on Myanmarese soil, the sources said. Pakistan,
which lost ground along India's eastern seaboard after Bangladesh's
liberation is, however, determined to come closer to Yangon. General
Maung Aye is visiting India at a time when Myanmar has decided to
diversify its military and economic relationships. Yangon, sources said,
may be open to lower military dependence on China, giving room for
improved security ties with other countries including India.