Myanmar window for Delhi

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Galaxy, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Bali, Nov. 18: Myanmar has broken out as an open secret from a closed conspiracy, to what should be two cheers from New Delhi and three for Calcutta and Imphal in India’s east and Northeast.

    Myanmar has been nominated to head a multi-national body — the Asean — for the first time despite being ruled by a military junta because America and Asia think it is curing itself.

    From Bali on the rim of the Indian and Pacific Oceans has arisen a rare opportunity for both Myanmar and India.

    This is a window for New Delhi and Naypyidaw — the new capital of the Myanmarese junta — to embrace an opportunity that can translate into real benefits for the marginalised peoples along a border that is longer than India-Pakistan’s.

    India can dream of sailing goods and people down the Brahmaputra and the Imphal rivers and transferring them to Mandalay just as Myanmar can envisage sailing its sampans down the Irrawaddy so that they may reach the people of blockaded Manipur.

    Even more, Myanmar can actually expect India to look at it as a neighbour with friendship benefits and not just a haven for insurgents that harass the northeastern states.

    After years of isolation, sanctions and opprobrium, Myanmar has been recognised by an international body, the Asean, and the US as an infantile democracy-in-the-making.

    Leaders of the Asean, of which Myanmar is a member, today decided that the country would get to chair and host the next summit of the Asia-Pacific body.

    The rotating presidency of Asean was due to Myanmar in 2006 but it was denied the privilege because of human rights allegations against it.

    India physically touches the Asean with Myanmar. The states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh share a border with Myanmar that is probably easier to negotiate for bootleggers than armies. Indeed, bootleggers can find the India-Myanmar border more porous than inter-provincial boundaries

    New Delhi can still draw comfort, though. Despite western opposition since dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi was interned, New Delhi kept up a military and strategic cooperation with Naypyidaw.

    When India looks east, the first country is Myanmar.

    Barack Obama, who met Manmohan Singh here today, later said that secretary of state Hillary Clinton would visit Myanmar in December, a breakthrough by any standard.

    The US had sanctions imposed on Myanmar but it has begun seeing a “glimmer of democracy” since the junta released political prisoners last month, at the same time when New Delhi was hosting a junta leader.

    Myanmar will get to host the next meeting of Asean heads and the East Asia Summit in 2014 when it assumes the presidency of the body. India and China have been strategic rivals in Myanmar.

    The “emergence” of Myanmar has the potential to transform the economic and social life of India’s east and Northeast. On the table, but under the cloth, since Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister is the Mekong-Ganga project, a road highway plan intended to connect India with five countries on the banks of the Mekong River — Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, apart from Myanmar.

    India has persisted with a diplomatic relationship with the Myanmarese junta, despite India-bred dissident leader Aung San, because of insurgents in the Northeast who are suspected to find safe shelters there. That policy now promises rich-payoffs for India.

    For Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, Myanmar and Bangladesh are the two key countries for New Delhi’s “Look East” policy to translate from rhetoric to action

    Between Manmohan Singh and Mamata Banerjee, over disparate visits between Dhaka, New Delhi and Calcutta, the level of comfort with Bangladesh has increased in spite of the apparent quarrel over the Teesta waters.

    Now, from Bali, on a margin in the waters south east of India, is the promise of a hope for India’s perennially disturbed and wide-berthed Northeast. Promises sustain more than hope but hopes outlive promise.

    Myanmar window for Delhi
     
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  3. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Obama sends Clinton to Myanmar to propel reforms


    NUSA DUA, Indonesia — US President Barack Obama said Friday he would send Hillary Clinton to Myanmar next month, the first visit there by a US secretary of state for 50 years, to encourage democratic reform.

    The announcement of the historic trip came as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party said it would return to Myanmar's official political arena after years of marginalisation under military rule.

    Obama, speaking ahead of a regional summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, said that after "years of darkness, we have seen flickers of progress in the last several weeks" in Myanmar.

    Clinton who will travel to Myanmar on December 1-2 will "explore whether the United States can empower a positive transition in Burma", Obama said, using the country's former name.
    "

    Last night, I spoke to Aung San Suu Kyi directly and confirmed she supports American engagement to move this process forward."

    A key US senator who has long argued for greater engagement with Myanmar praised the planned visit.

    Democratic Senator Jim Webb, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific affairs subcommittee, said the trip would help determine how serious the formerly military-ruled country was about democratic reforms.
    "

    I am hopeful that Secretary Clinton's visit will provide an opportunity to closely examine any substantive improvements in our relations during this transitional period," he said.
    "

    Burma is now in the midst of a key transitional period that has yielded greater opportunities for interaction with government leaders and civil society, and restructuring of government and military institutions," Webb added.

    The foray into Myanmar comes as Washington rolls out a campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power and provide a counterbalance to China's growing diplomatic, economic and military might.

    China, already rankled by Obama's Pacific drive, which includes stationing Marines in Australia and pushing a trans-Pacific trade pact, is likely to be concerned by the gesture towards Myanmar, its resource-rich ally and neighbour.

    The US president set a course for confrontation with Beijing as he hailed Saturday's East Asia Summit as the best setting for tackling the region's seething maritime row with China.

    The Chinese government has testily declared the South China Sea dispute off-limits at the talks, to be attended by Obama, China's Premier Wen Jiabao, and 16 other nations including several with claims over the area.

    Obama, facing a tough re-election fight next year amid 9.0 percent unemployment and a slow recovery, is under huge political pressure to demonstrate he can leverage jobs and economic growth from Asia.

    On Friday he presided over the signing of a $21.7 billion deal for US aviation giant Boeing to provide at least 230 medium-range 737s for Lion Air, a regional carrier based in Indonesia.

    The deal, which will unfold over many years, will support 110,000 jobs in 43 US states, the White House said. But it was unclear whether it would actually produce any of the new jobs desperately needed by the struggling US economy.

    Obama's announcement on Myanmar is the most significant US policy move on the country in many years, after decades of using sanctions to isolate the country over human rights abuses by generals who refused to shift to democracy.

    But since elections a year ago, the new nominally civilian government has surprised observers by holding direct talks with Suu Kyi, freeing 200 dissidents and freezing work on an unpopular major dam project.

    Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy announced Friday it would re-register as a political party and take part in upcoming by-elections.

    The party won 1990 polls in a landslide but was never allowed to take power.

    It refused to participate in last year's elections, the country's first in 20 years, because of rules that would have forced it to expel imprisoned members.

    Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize winner who has spent most of the last two decades in detention, was released a few days after the election and now appears to be planning an entrance to the mainstream political process.

    NLD spokesman Nyan Win told AFP she was "likely" to take part in a forthcoming by-election.

    Analysts say the return of the NLD would add to the legitimacy of the army-backed government, which is seeking to shrug off its image as a pariah -- but would also raise the profile of the popular but long-excluded Suu Kyi.

    Obama noted "important steps" taken by Myanmar's new President Thein Sein, who he will encounter at Saturday's summit, and the Myanmar parliament moves to ease media restrictions and free prisoners.

    As a reward for its conciliatory moves, Myanmar has already won Southeast Asia's backing to chair its regional bloc in 2014, despite rights groups saying the move was premature and could remove the incentive for more fundamental reform.
    "

    There has been some forward movement" in Myanmar, Clinton said in an interview with CNN.
    "

    We're hoping most certainly for the people of Burma that this is real," she said. "If it is, the United States will support and encourage it."

    AFP: Obama sends Clinton to Myanmar to propel reforms
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011

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