Indian President Expresses Support for Myanmar During State Visit

By Kyaw Kha 13 December 2018

YANGON—The visiting Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has expressed his support for the Myanmar government during a state visit this week amid growing domestic and international pressure.

The president is on his first official visit to Myanmar at the invitation of President U Win Myint for a five-day trip which began on Monday and will conclude on Friday.

“In India, we are aware of the challenges Myanmar faces in taking forward the peace process, national reconciliation and economic recovery. I want to tell you that the government and people of India stand by you,” said the Indian president at a dinner hosted by President U Win Myint on Tuesday.

India is in full support of Myanmar’s peace process and in preserving the unity and territorial integrity of the country, he said.

“For without that, India cannot succeed in its effort to bring development, prosperity and connectivity to our citizens in the northeast, which borders Myanmar,” said the Indian president.

President U Win Myint said he was grateful that India attaches a high importance to its relations with Myanmar in its foreign relations based on its “Act East Policy” and “Neighborhood First Policy.”

The two presidents witnessed the signing of two memoranda of understanding between the two governments on cooperation in science and technology and in conducting judicial training and capacity building for Myanmar judges and law officers.

Late last year, the two countries signed the Rakhine State Development Programme, designed to assist the Myanmar government in building housing infrastructure in Rakhine State for the return of the displaced Rohingya. The first phase of the project is to see the construction of 250 units.

During the Indian president’s visit, the Indian Ambassador to Myanmar, Vikram Misri, officially handed over 50 of 250 units of prefabricated houses to Union Minister U Win Myat Aye.

The Indian President also held talks with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, focusing on promoting ties between the two countries and cooperation in a wide range of sectors.

As of Dec. 1, the Myanmar government is offering a visa-on-arrival policy for Indian travelers to Myanmar who arrive by air.

It is however not clear if India’s president will meet Myanmar’s army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

The presidential visit follows the visit of India’s prime minister Narendra Modi to Myanmar in September last year and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited India in January this year for the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit.