India wants to remain engaged with Myanmar
The country, ruled by the military junta, is of enormous strategic importance to India with the two sharing a 1,400 km border.india Updated: Mar 08, 2006 12:23 IST
Though US President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned "the deplorable state of human rights" in Myanmar, it was important for India to remain engaged with its strategic neighbour, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said in the Capital on Tuesday.
Addressing reporters on the eve of President APJ Abdul Kalam's visit to the country, Saran said the issue of Myanmar had come up during the US president's visit last week.
But the prime minister "expressed the importance of the relationship with Myanmar", the foreign secretary said.
The country, ruled by the military junta, is of enormous strategic importance to India with the two sharing a 1,400 km border that touches the four sensitive northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.
Myanmar has been helping India by conducting military raids against anti-India insurgents in jungle hideouts in its territory, a measure that New Delhi has deeply appreciated.
Myanmar is also seen a new source of natural gas for India.
"We look at Myanmar as a bridgehead to Southeast Asia," Saran asserted, adding that India welcomed the commitment of the leadership of Myanmar to multiparty democracy.
Sidestepping the issue of the release of jailed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, he said she enjoyed enormous respect and admiration and "we believe that her welfare and release would very helpful in the process of democratisation that Myanmar is engaged in".
Addressing reporters after talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week, Bush said the US and India condemned "the deplorable state of human rights in Burma and (want) all nations to seek the release of Aung San Su Kyi".