Manmohan for political reforms in Myanmar, condemns violence

By Manish Chand, IANS

On Board Air India One : Stressing the need for political reforms in Myanmar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday walked a diplomatic tightrope saying that India will continue to seek better relations regardless of the “colour of the government”, even as he condemned suppression of human rights in the neighbouring country.

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“Violence and suppression of human rights is something that hurts us,” he told reporters during a mid-air press conference during his return journey after a five-day tour of Nigeria and South Africa.

But he added that India will have to also recognise that as Myanmar is a “next door neighbour”, “sometimes it does not serve the objective you have in mind by going public with condemnations”.

Manmohan Singh stressed that insurgency in India’s northeast made it imperative for New Delhi to engage with the regime in Myanmar and continue to seek better co-operation with it.

“We also have to be mindful of the fact that India’s northeastern borders are with Myanmar and there are insurgent groups who sometimes take advantage of the situation in Myanmar to indulge in nefarious activities,” he said.

“In dealing with this, we need to co-operate with the government in Myanmar regardless of its colour,” asserted Manmohan Singh, referring to India’s stance of engagement with the military junta.

But he tried to again balance his words by adding, “Let me say that our position on the basic issues of political reforms is never in doubt.”

Manmohan Singh told reporters that when Myanmarese leader senior general Than Shwe visited India two years ago, New Delhi had “impressed upon him the need for national reconciliation and the need to unite all political elements”.

“And he (Than Shwe) did not deny it,” said Manmohan Singh.