NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday welcomed Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to her “second home” – India, which she is visiting after sweeping the Myanmar’s first democratic elections in half a century.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Vikas Swarup desribed her as the “old friend from the East”, as Myanmar’s first Foreign Minister Suu Kyi began her maiden visit to India after her party came to power earlier this year.
“I welcome her Excellency to her second home. It is an honour for us to receive you in India,” Prime Minister Modi said during a conference that followed his meeting with Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi has spent her early years in India as her mother was posted here as a diplomat.
Invoking the centuries old cultural connect, Modi reiterated India’s commitment to the development of Myanmar.
“India has a robust development cooperation programme with Myanmar…“Our societies enjoy centuries old cultural connect. We offered assistance in restoring pagodas that were damaged in recent earthquake,” Modi said.
Sharing a 1600 km long border with Myanmar, India would want a strong and stable relation with Myanmar. Security and border management are also important issues between the two countries as Myanmar serves as the gateway for the geographically isolated north-eastern region of India with the South-East Asian countries.
Suu Kyi, who as the first woman foreign minister of her country has been seeking to mend Myanmar’s ties with China, had chosen Beijing as her first destination for a foreign trip. In August External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had visited Myanmar with an invite for Suu Kyi to visit India. The 70-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate Suu Kyi in her meeting with Swaraj has sought India’s help for reconciliation in the country.
In her address during the joint conference with the Prime Minister Modi she expressed her admiration for India’s democratic credentials. “It is our ambition to bring peace and stability in our country and beyond because we have suffered from instability for a long time,” Suu Kyi said.
Suu Kyi has been known as the democratic icon of Myanmar. And she said that the Indian freedom fighters have been a source of inspiration for her. “We are inspired by Gandhi, Nehru. We are confident that our countries can overcome challenges. The time has come for us to say that, yes we can do this. We have always admired India for being the greatest democracy in the world,” she added.
Among the issues of cooperation the ASI will begin working on the restoration of two old temples and inscriptions of King Mindon and King Baygyidaw in Bodh Gaya. Both the countries have agreed to enhance their engagement in several areas including agriculture, power, renewable energy and power sector.