India, Myanmar review ties, sign port operator agreement
New Delhi : India and Myanmar on Monday reviewed all matters related to their bilateral ties, including the Rohingya refugees crisis, and signed a crucial memorandum of understanding for the appointment of an operator of port that will boost connectivity.
According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called on Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi during the course of which all matters relating to bilateral cooperation as well as matters pertaining to international and regional matters of common interest, including developments in the Rakhine State, were discussed.
A new crisis erupted in August last year following an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group that led to a violent response by the Myanmar Army in Rakhine.
This resulted in an exodus of Rohingya refugees from Rakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh.
New Delhi has sent relief material for the refugees in both Rakhine and Bangladesh.
The Rohingya people do not enjoy citizenship status in Myanmar and are sparingly given refugee status in Bangladesh.
In December last year, India and Myanmar signed an MoU to develop Rakhine state.
After meeting Suu Kyi, Gokhale called on Transport and Communications Minister and discussed matters related to connectivity and transport infrastructure being developed by India in Myanmar.
Following the meeting, Gokhale and U Win Khant, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communications, signed the MoU for the appointment of a private port operator for the operation and maintenance of Sittwe Port, Paletwa Inland Water Terminal and associated facilities that are part of the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project.
The project connects Sittwe Port with Mizoram state in northeastern India.
"This is a significant step in the implementation of India's Act East Policy, as its signing will enhance Myanmar's connectivity including with India and add to the development of the whole region, particularly in the Rakhine and Chin states of Myanmar," the ministry statement said.
"It would also add to local infrastructure capacity and help in creating more job opportunities for the local people."
Following this MoU, the process of identifying bidders to maintain these facilities will be initiated by floating a request for proposal.
During the course of his visit, Gokhale also called on the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
"All matters relating to border security, bilateral cooperation, Myanmar's peace process as well as the situation in northern Rakhine state were discussed during the meeting," the statement added.