Modi backs Myanmar on Rohingya issue, praises Suu Kyi's leadership
Indian PM Narendra Modi praised Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership in a joint statement during his visit to Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. He also appeared to accept the Myanmar government's stance on the ethnic violence with Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. Myanmar is facing international pressure over the conflict which has left 400 dead and forced 125,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.
"We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and the violence against security forces and also how innocent lives have been affected," Modi said. "We hope that all stakeholders together can find a way out in which unity and territorial integrity of Myanmar is respected." The Rohingya insurgency stems from Myanmar's persecution of the minority, which the UN has called a genocide.
"Being neighbors, we have similar security concerns. It is important for us to work together" to secure the India-Myanmar border, Modi said. Myanmar's long porous border with India's north-eastern states has allowed many anti-India insurgent groups to set up bases and training camps there, a longstanding concern for India. Suu Kyi said together, both countries can ensure terrorism doesn't take root.
Had a wonderful meeting with President U Htin Kyaw. pic.twitter.com/XGZVkYbVwq— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 5, 2017
"Your leadership in Myanmar's peace process is commendable, we understand your challenges," Modi said to Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize winner. He said India would release 40 Myanmarese citizens imprisoned in its territory. He said Myanmarese citizens wishing to visit India would be given a free gratis visa. India and Myanmar also signed seven MoUs and announced a cultural exchange programme.
Modi also reiterated India's continued support to Myanmar to build infrastructure and institutions. "In future, our projects will be in sync with Myanmar's needs and the agreements signed today will strengthen our relationship," Modi said. He said India's commitment to building roads and bridges signal a long and better relationship with Myanmar. Modi's statement could provide impetus to India's slowed infrastructure progress in Myanmar.