New Delhi, Dec 6: The 20th round of the India-Myanmar Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) convened in New Delhi, fostering diplomatic dialogue between the two nations.
Leading the Indian delegation was Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, while the Myanmar delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister U Lwin Oo.
Discussions during the FOC covered an array of critical topics, including the border situation and security, trade, commerce, connectivity, and the status of bilateral development projects in Myanmar.
Both sides addressed concerns related to transnational crimes, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts. India reiterated its unwavering support for Myanmar’s transition towards a federal democracy.
The Indian delegation conveyed its commitment to people-centric socio-economic developmental projects, highlighting support for initiatives such as the Rakhine State Development Programme and the Border Area Development Programme. Emphasising connectivity projects, India aims to contribute to the well-being of the people of Myanmar.
In recent weeks, India expressed deep concern over the escalating conflict between Myanmar’s anti-junta groups and government forces, particularly in regions bordering Mizoram. The resistance fighters, making territorial gains, captured key towns, military bases, and trade routes. Notably, the takeover of Rihkhawdar, a crucial border crossing point, has raised regional tensions. New Delhi, reiterating its call for peace, stability, and democracy in Myanmar, emphasised the need for a cessation of violence and constructive dialogue. Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the external affairs ministry, last month in a media briefing expressed deep concern over incidents near the India-Myanmar border.
Last month witnessed resistance fighters seizing control of military camps in Rihkhawdar, leading to the displacement of 5,000 Myanmar nationals, including over 40 soldiers, seeking shelter in Mizoram. Soldiers were sent back. The international community, including the UN, reports that intensified fighting has displaced around 90,000 people.
India’s stance remains clear – a call for an end to violence and a resolution through constructive dialogue. Since the onset of the conflict in Myanmar in 2021, a significant number of Myanmar citizens have sought refuge in India. Local authorities in neighbouring states have been addressing the situation on humanitarian grounds, with New Delhi facilitating the return of those willing to go back to Myanmar.
Myanmar plunged into crisis in 2021 when Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a coup, triggering mass protests and eventually evolving into armed resistance against the military’s crackdown on civilians.