Myanmar hails India's role in Rohingya refugees' rehabilitation

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar)


Myanmar on Thursday appreciated India's role in the rehabilitation of Rohingya refugees after New Delhi handed over the first 50 housing units for displaced people in the eastern neighbour's Rakhine State.

"The two sides shared the view that the situation in Rakhine State has humanitarian, developmental as well as security dimensions," a joint statement issued on the concluding day of President Ram Nath Kovind's three-day state visit to Myanmar said.

"India expressed its support for the agreements reached between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the repatriation of the verified displaced persons from Rakhine State and underlined its readiness to continue to assist in addressing this complex issue," it stated.

"Myanmar welcomed the assistance being provided by India for infrastructure development under the aegis of the Rakhine State Development Programme."

India on Tuesday handed over to Myanmar the first 50 housing units built for the displaced Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State following delegation-level talks between Kovind and his Myanmar counterpart U Win Myint here.

India had signed a development programme for Rakhine late last year which was designed to assist the Myanmar government to build housing infrastructure for return of the displaced persons.

Two hundred and fifty housing units were planned under the first phase of the development project.

Over 730,000 Rohingya people, who are not recognised as citizens by Myanmar, have sought refuge in Bangladesh since August 2017, following a military campaign against the minority community in Rakhine.

"The two sides noted the progress made in executing a pilot housing project in northern Rakhine and the assistance extended by India for agricultural development and IT education in the State," Thursday's joint statement said.

"The Indian side expressed its willingness to consider expanding the existing Rakhine State Development Programme, once the current allocation of $25 million is fully committed."

According to the statement, the two countries reaffirmed their common aspiration for peace, collective prosperity and development of the region and beyond.

"They reviewed developments since the visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Myanmar in September 2017 and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to India in January 2018 and noted the growing exchanges in the bilateral sphere, including in the areas of trade, investment, culture, people-to-people contacts and security that bear testimony to the synergies between Myanmar's independent, active and non-aligned foreign policy and India's pragmatic Act East and Neighbourhood First policies," it stated.

"The leaders agreed to continue exploring new opportunities to expand bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the peoples of both countries."

Kovind and Myint also agreed that terrorism constituted a significant threat to peace and stability in the region and should be confronted in all its forms and manifestations.

"They called on the international community to end selective and partial approaches to combating terrorism and, in this regard, jointly called for the expeditious finalisation and adoption of the (India-initiated) Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the United Nations General Assembly," the statement said without naming Pakistan.

In the wake of reports of incursions by the Myanmar army into India's bordering state of Manipur, the statement said that "both sides reiterated their mutual respect for the already demarcated boundary between the two countries and emphasised the need to resolve amicably outstanding boundary demarcation issues at the earliest, through existing bilateral mechanisms".

"The leaders also noted the need to maintain security and stability along the India-Myanmar borders, which is essential for the socio-economic development of the populations living in the border areas," the statement said.

"In this regard, both sides underlined their mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and reaffirmed their shared commitment to fight insurgent activity and the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," it said.

"Both sides reiterated that their commitment to not allow insurgent groups to use their soil for hostile activities against the other side is essential for the stability of the border regions and the prosperity of the people residing along the border."

The statement assumes significance given the activities of Naga insurgent outfits on the Myanmar side of the border.