Indian foreign secretary, army chief meet Aung San Suu Kyi

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Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane met Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for talks on taking forward bilateral relations in a wide range of areas.

As part of India’s efforts to help Myanmar fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Shringla and Naravane handed over a consignment of 3,000 vials of the drug Remdesivir to Suu Kyi, officials said.

The foreign secretary and the army chief began two-day visit to Myanmar on Sunday, the first time an Indian delegation to the neighbouring country has included both officials. Their meetings with Myanmar’s top civil and military leadership are meant to take forward ties in areas ranging from security to connectivity.

Shringla and Naravane discussed “important bilateral issues” during their meeting with Suu Kyi at the foreign ministry in Naypyitaw, the Indian embassy said in a tweet without giving details.

The operationalisation of Myanmar’s Sittwe port as part of the Kaladan transit transport project to boost connectivity with India’s northeastern states and enhanced security cooperation to counter activities of militant groups, especially along the borders in Manipur and Nagaland are among the key issues on the agenda of the Indian delegation, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.

In August, India provided Myanmar $5 million as the annual contribution under a border area development programme that was started in 2012. The programme was initially meant to last five years, and it was later extended till 2022. It has led to the implementation of around 140 projects in Myanmar’s Chin state and Naga Self-Administered Zone.

The safe return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar is also expected to figure during the visit. Dhaka has been pressing New Delhi to use its good relations with Naypyitaw to push forward the process, the people said.

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