Indian PM stresses cooperation, concerns about ‘extremist violence’


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (R) during a joint press conference at the presidential house in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 6 September 2017. Photo: Hein Htet/EPA

Visiting Indian PM Narendra Modi emphasized cooperation, strengthening of bilateral relations, and the recognition of mutual concerns about “extremist violence” in a joint press conference with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw today.

PM Modi was speaking on his first full day of his September 5-7 visit to Myanmar.

This is PM Modi's first bilateral visit to Myanmar. He had last visited the country in 2014 to attend the ASEAN-India Summit. Aung San Suu Kyi visited India last year.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi opened the press conference with a note of thanks to India for its relationship that stretches back seven decades to the Independence of Burma and India.

“We believe bilateral relations are based on mutual trust and understanding,” said Suu Kyi.

“Would like to thank India for taking a strong stand on the terror threat that Myanmar faced recently,” she said, adding, “Together we can ensure that terrorism is not allowed to take root on our soil or on the soil of neighbouring countries.”

PM Modi, speaking in Hindi, said he welcomed the opportunity to visit Myanmar.

Modi said he appreciated the State Counsellor’s efforts to bring peace to her country.

“We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and violence against security forces and how innocent lives have been affected,” Modi told the press conference.

He noted that India’s experience of democracy is relevant to Myanmar.

“The rise in construction of roads, bridges and highways, power links and connectivity are a step in the right direction and indicate a bright future for ties between India and Myanmar,” he said.

“Just like our development partnership, Myanmar's efforts to ensure high quality education, healthcare and research is worthy of praise,” PM Modi added, noting the importance of the development of information technology.

The Indian Prime Minister said the two countries’ outlook and focus on security are similar, adding that it is necessary that India and Myanmar cooperate to ensure that the land and coastal borders the two countries share remain calm.

The visiting Indian PM said he recognized the challenges Myanmar face in terms of seeking peace within its borders.

“Your courageous efforts towards the Myanmar peace process is worthy of praise. We understand and stand by Myanmar in these challenging times,” he said.

Modi noted that the efforts to increase connectivity between India and Myanmar are a step in the right direction and are being carried out at a brisk pace.

Modi said India would begin granting visas free of charge to Myanmar citizens and added that 40 Myanmar nationals would be released from Indian jails.

During the meeting between Modi and Suu Kyi, the two oversaw the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding in sectors including health, culture, and police training.

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