As Myanmar sets out on a new path after decades of military rule, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today assured it of support of the 1.25 billion people of India as the two countries resolved to deepen ties and actively cooperate to combat terrorism and insurgent activities in the region.
“Let me assure you that at every step of the way 1.25 billion people of India will stand by you - both as partners and as friends,” Modi said after bilateral talks with Myanmarese President U Htin Kyaw.
Modi held extensive talks with President Kyaw, in the first top-level engagement with the new government of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, and conveyed India's full support to Myanmar's internal peace process.
The two sides inked four MoUs to boost cooperation in areas of connectivity, medicine and renewable energy, besides resolving to deepen ties in a range of other sectors, including agriculture, banking and power.
Reading out a statement to media, Modi later said both sides recognised that each other's security interests are closely aligned and that both countries agreed to work together to combat terrorism and insurgent activities in the region.
"We recognised that our security interests are closely aligned. And, we agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other's strategic interests and concerns.
"To this end, President and I agreed to work together for the safety and security of our people. And, actively cooperate to combat the common challenges of terrorism and insurgent activity in our region," Modi said, with Htin Kyaw by his side.
Myanmar, considered one of India's strategic neighbours, shares a 1,640 km long border with a number of North Eastern states including militancy-infested Nagaland and Manipur.
India has been raising with Myanmar the issue of several North East militant outfits having training camps in that country.
Referring to new Myanmarese government's agenda of ushering a all round growth and development in the country, Modi said, "Let me assure you that at every step of the way
1.25 billion people of India will stand by you- Both as partners and as friends."
Reassuring India's support to Myanmar, Modi said India wants to take the relationship to "new heights", adding "A bright future for Myanmar is not just your objective. It is also our aspiration."
The Prime Minister said both sides have also agreed to work towards a long-term and a mutually beneficial arrangement for trade in pulses.
Calling Myanmar a "bridge" that connects India with South East Asia, Modi said, “Myanmar is special for us. It holds a unique position in India's neighbourhood.”
"Our discussions today have enabled us to evolve a road map and an action agenda for our cooperation," Modi said.
The Myanmarese President on his part said his government wants to strengthen ties with India.
China has been increasing its footprint in Myanmar and making huge investments in several major projects.
Prime Minister Modi said two agreements signed today will facilitate the construction and upgrading of 69 bridges and the Kalewa-Yargi road section of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project.
It is Htin Kyaw's first visit abroad after assuming charge of the top office and Modi told him that India was deeply honoured that he has chosen India for his first State visit abroad.
"Buddhist principles of 'metta' or loving kindness and 'Sarva Pantha Sambhava' (equality of all religions) define our ways of life," said Modi, while complimenting maturity of Myanmar's leadership and commitment of its people to democracy.
Modi said he has also conveyed to the President India's full support to the peace process initiative under the '21st Century Panglong Conference'.
Talking about intensity of bilateral ties, Modi said its extent and depth are shaped by a robust development cooperation partnership, which has a strong "people first" philosophy.
"India's nearly 2 billion dollar development assistance is touching the lives of the common man of Myanmar. Our engagement is supporting projects in connectivity, infrastructure, capacity building education, healthcare and many other sectors," he said.
Giving example of India's assistance, he talked about the Kaladan project and said its port and waterway segment were nearing completion later this year.
"In April this year, we took the small step of supplying power to Tamu in Myanmar. I have told the President that we are willing to substantially scale up our supply of power," the PM said.
Talking about cultural ties, he said it is a "key centrality" in the foundation of the ties.
"I am happy that our partnership is restoring Ananda temple in Bagan in Myanmar.
"We are also ready to restore other historic monuments and pagodas, which were damaged in the earthquake which hit Myanmar just last week," he said.