India offers Myanmar's Suu Kyi help in energy, agriculture

By Ashok Sharma, Associated Press


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, shakes hand with Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi before a bilateral meeting in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India offered on Wednesday to provide help with energy and agriculture in response to a request from visiting Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for cooperation in building infrastructure in her country.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Suu Kyi in New Delhi and also offered help in restoring pagodas damaged by a recent earthquake in Myanmar.

Last year, India pledged about $1.75 billion in development assistance to Myanmar as the two countries decided to expand relations. Modi said Wednesday that the aid is in line with the priorities of Myanmar's people and government.

"In our conversation today, we have agreed to enhance our engagement in several areas including agriculture, power, renewable energy and power sector," he said.

Suu Kyi also sought the help of India's private sector, saying the people of Myanmar look forward to progress and improvement in their lives. She said change doesn't happen easily and Myanmar has to go about the process of transition in a cautious manner.

Suu Kyi's elected civilian government took power this year from an army-backed regime, but the military retains considerable influence.

Modi said the two countries share security concerns and have agreed to work in close cooperation along their borders. "Sensitivity to each other's strategic interests will serve the interests of both our countries," he said.

India is battling dozens of rebel groups in its remote northeast who are fighting for greater regional autonomy or for independent homelands. India says some operate from across the border in Myanmar.

Last year, Indian soldiers conducted an operation against militant groups along the border and an Indian minister said special forces entered Myanmar to conduct strikes. However, Myanmar insisted that the attack occurred inside India, and said it would not tolerate rebel groups using its soil to attack neighbors.

Suu Kyi's three-day visit to India ends Wednesday.


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