In the first such outreach, Foreign Secretary visits military-ruled Myanmar!

Myanmar | Military | 17th January 2022 | Virtual Wire



In New Delhi's first outreach to Myanmar's military-controlled regime, India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringhla is on a two-day visit to Yangon and Naypyitaw to meet the State Administration Council (SAC) whose chairperson is General Min Aung Hlaing, the general who toppled the democratically elected government on 1st February 2021.

Mr. Shringhla last visited Myanmar last year. Issuing a statement, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed that issues concerning humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, the India-Myanmar border & security concerns and the political situation in Myanmar are matters under discussion. Mr. Shringhla is also expected to speak about India's increasing security concerns resulting from the insurgent groups operating around the 1,600km long India-Myanmar border and the attacks they have carried in recent times.

Indian security agencies have recently warned about the increasing activities of insurgent groups along the India-Myanmar border.

The foreign secretary's visit comes two weeks after a Naypyitaw court sentenced Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar's former State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to 4 years of imprisonment, a verdict about which India expressed "deep concern". The court found her guilty of inciting dissent. Her sentence was later reduced to 2 years of imprisonment. The visit is seen as a tacit acknowledgement of India’s recognition of the Myanmar coup, given that the MEA statement explicitly referred to the SAC, a group of 11 members of military & civilian officials, set up by General Min Aung Hlaing, who has subsequently named himself the Prime Minister. However, MEA officials denied that the visit was legitimising the military regime, terming it an "official" and not a political visit and stating that democratic moves will also be discussed.


Earlier in June this year, India had abstained from endorsing a UNSC resolution to prevent arms supplies to the military regime in Myanmar after the coup. Moreover, Vinay Kumar was appointed India's Ambassador to Myanmar in November, another sign suggesting that New Delhi has not derecognised the military regime despite the coup. Mr. Shringla's visit also underscores India's balancing act in trying to uphold the democratic values on the one hand, but also tacitly countering China's growing influence in Myanmar, which can increase as the military regime gets isolated on the global stage.

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