Burmese Military Chief in India for Week-long Visit

By Zarni Mann 3 August 2012

Vice Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Burma’s armed forces, is in India for a week-long visit to meet with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony and the heads of India’s army, air force and navy.

During his stay, he will be hosted at the Eastern Army Command in Kolkata and the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam and will later visit Bangalore to inspect the facilities of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization.

He began his first visit to India yesterday with a trip to the Buddhist holy site of Bodhgaya, where he paid homage at the Mahabodhi Temple. He also laid a wreath to pay his respects to the Indian Martyrs at India Gate in New Delhi today.

His arrival coincided with a report in the Hindustan Times, a leading Indian newspaper, on Thursday  that India has decided to train more Burmese army personnel and give more non-weapon equipment to boost military ties between the two countries.

“The decision to train more Myanmar army personnel will have a crucial role to play in this plan,” the newspaper reported, referring to India’s efforts to get Burma to clamp down on insurgents in India’s remote northeastern region.

Despite its early support for Burma’s pro-democracy movement following the nationwide uprising against military rule in 1988, India later shifted to a policy of cultivating closer ties with the country’s former junta, in part because of the insurgencies in the northeast, but also to offset China’s growing influence in the Southeast Asian nation.

Besides engaging in joint military exercises and anti-insurgent operations together with Burmese forces, India has also provided its impoverished neighbor with valuable military hardware, including Islander maritime patrol aircraft, 105mm light artillery guns and navel patrol boats.