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India’s Army Chief visits Burma

New Delhi (Mizzima) - India’s Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, began a three-day visit to military-ruled Burma on Sunday, in a bid to boost military cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, according to reports.

The Indo-Asian News Service, quoting military officials, reported that Gen. Kapoor would meet Burmese military officials and attempt to boost bilateral defence cooperation.

“The Army Chief will hold meetings with his counterpart and other senior army and government functionaries,” IANS quoted a senior Indian Army official as saying. The official added Indian and Burmese armies have had close ties and had also enjoyed cooperation during counter-insurgency trainings.

Since the early 1990s, India has changed its foreign policy towards Burma and had begun engaging the military rulers in its new ‘Look East Policy’. Since then, India, which once supported the democratic movement in Burma, has remained silent over the ruling junta’s human rights violations.

Dr. Tint Swe, a New Delhi-based minister for the Burmese exiled government – the National Coalition Government of Union of Burma (NCGUB) – said India is gearing up to take every opportunity available to make its foothold stronger in Burma.

However, he said, India should realize that its ‘Look East’ policy has been a failure and it does not serve the interests of both the people of India as well as Burma, because none of the promises that the Burmese junta had given to India were fulfilled.

“India says that it is cooperating with the Burmese junta to flush out insurgents in the north-eastern region. But, on the ground, we do not see these insurgents being flushed out of Burma, instead we see signs of their increasing presence,” Tint Swe said.

India justifies its cooperation with the Burmese junta, stating its intention to end its north eastern insurgents, who are reportedly taking refuge in Burma, to fulfill its energy needs and to counter Chinese influence in the Southeast Asian country.

However, Tint Swe argues, “I do not believe that the Burmese junta is in a position to help India’s interest and also doubt that they will serve India’s interests.”

Apart from investing in the Kaladan multi-modal project, which will connect India’s northeast with Burma’s Chin and Arakan states, India is also investing in several other projects, including oil and gas exploration in the offshore western coast and in a number of hydro-electricity projects.

Since India changed its policy towards Burma, it has provided four Islander maritime patrol aircraft as well as 105mm light artillery guns, naval gun-boats, mortars, grenade-launchers and rifles, among other armaments, to the Burmese junta, which is under an arms embargo and trade sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and Australia.

From the early 1990s, both countries have maintained high-level visits in a bid to boost bilateral cooperation. Besides, heads of states and political figures, the two countries also exchanged visits between chiefs of the armed forces.

Indian Naval Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash, visited Burma in January 2006, following a visit by the then Indian Army Chief’s visit in November 2005.

In February 2005, Burmese Naval Chief, Vice Admiral Soe Thein, visited India. Later that year, between December 22 and 26, 2005, two Indian warships paid a visit to Rangoon to participate in basic exercises in tandem with the Burmese Navy.

Similarly, a Corvette of the Burmese Navy was invited for the first time to participate in the multi-nation exercise Milan-06, off the Andaman Coast, held between January 9 and 14, 2006.

Meanwhile, Burma’s Military Affairs Security Chief, Lt-Gen Ye Myint, last week visited Cambodia, and met Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Pol Saroeun.

The meeting between Pol Saroeun and Ye Myint was held to discuss general military concerns, strengthen cooperation between the two countries and improve the standard of armed forces in the region, according to reports.

Some information provided by Salai Pi Pi

Last Updated ( Monday, 12 October 2009 21:31 )  

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