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Swaraj in Myanmar; to hold talks with Suu Kyi


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived here on Monday to hold talks with the top Myanmarese leadership, including State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, in pursuance of India’s ‘Act East Policy’.

The one-day trip by Swaraj, accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and other senior Ministry of External Affairs officials, is the first high profile Indian visit after Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a historic landslide election last year that finally brought an end to five decades of military rule.

She will call on President U Htin Kyaw, apart from meeting Nobel laureate and democracy icon Suu Kyi, who is the de facto leader.

Banned from becoming president by a junta-era Constitution, Suu Kyi has a strong control over the country’s first civilian-led government.

The Constitution effectively bans her from the top post as it rules out anyone with foreign-born children or spouses from becoming president — Suu Kyi married and had two sons with a British national.

The military also retains control of the key home, defence and border affairs ministries, while 25 per cent of parliamentary seats are reserved for unelected soldiers.

Incidentally, Swaraj’s visit comes just days after Suu Kyi made a high-profile trip to China.

The discussions between Swaraj and Suu Kyi are expected to focus on New Delhi’s bilateral relations with Nay Pyi Daw, as well as plans for the upcoming BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit scheduled to be held in Goa.

Security issues concerning certain Myanmar-based militant groups operating in India’s North East could also come up for discussion.

India and Myanmar share close relations with a robust development cooperation programme in areas such as agriculture, IT, human resource development, infrastructure development, culture among others.

The visit reaffirms India’s commitment to heighten partnership with Myanmar in the areas of priority by the new government of Myanmar, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.