The Indian Army’s new chief Gen Deepak Kapoor said on Monday that India should maintain its good relations with Myanmar. The happenings in Myanmar are an internal matter of that country, Gen Kapoor said in response to a question on the political situation there.
“We have good relations with Myanmar and we should maintain these,” he said. The new chief was speaking to reporters shortly after inspecting the guard of honour to mark his taking over the reins of the Indian Army. The cooperation and support of Myanmar’s military is considered vital to India's counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast.
Despite pressure from the West to condemn the crackdown on pro-democracy protestors, India has been guarded in its approach. The external affairs ministry earlier gave a statement, after protests broke out against the ruling junta, which merely expressed “concern”. It came at a time when most other countries were condemning the attacks on protesting monks as brutal.
“As a close and friendly neighbour, India hopes to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Myanmar, where all sections of the people will be included in a broad-based process of national reconciliation and political reform," said an Indian foreign office statement released earlier.
Till the mid-1990s, India was openly supporting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In October 2004, New Delhi welcomed military leader Gen Than Shwe during his visit to the capital, signaling the change in course to balance China’s growing influence in the region.