Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Indian foreign minister defends ties with Myanmar junta

India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday defended his country's ties with the Myanmar junta. ©AFP

Bangkok (AFP) - India's foreign minister on Thursday defended his country's ties with the Myanmar junta, despite growing international concerns about recent executions and the legitimacy of elections planned for next year.

Myanmar's decade-long experiment with democracy was halted last year and the country has since spiralled into bloody conflict after the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government in a coup.

It has become a global pariah, with some western countries downgrading relations and levelling economic sanctions against the junta.

But India, China and Russia have continued to engage with the regime, including conducting ministerial visits.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said New Delhi's position on Myanmar has been consistent over decades and goes back to the country's struggle for freedom against colonialism.

"Our relationship is not something which should be judged...by the politics of the day," Jaishankar told an audience at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

As a direct neighbour India could not avoid dealing with the military junta regime because of border issues such as organised crime, coronavirus and Indian insurgents in Myanmar, he said.

"We also have to manage our border relationship and the complexities of being a neighbour," he said.

Earlier this year New Delhi's incoming ambassador to Myanmar presented his credentials to coup leader Min Aung Hlaing -- making India one of the few nations to recognise the junta as a legitimate government.

Jaishankar said as an immediate neighbour, India had an empathy and an understanding that was different from other countries far away that were pontificating about Myanmar's democracy.

Despite their engagement with the junta, "we deeply believe that Myanmar is best served by being a democracy -- by reflecting what are the sentiments and wishes of its people," he said.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc have so far proven fruitless.

Last week, Myanmar's ruling junta moved to restrict the country's 92 political parties from meeting foreigners or international organisations ahead of an election expected next year.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the international community to reject the junta's "sham elections" planned for next year.

Suu Kyi has been in custody since February 2021 and faces an eclectic raft of charges that could see her jailed for more than 150 years. 

Related Stories
Myanmar junta may talk to Suu Kyi ... after her trial
Myanmar’s military chief said on Friday the junta is open to negotiations with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end the crisis sparked by its coup — after her trials in a junta-run court have concluded.
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
UN Myanmar envoy begins talks with junta chief
Naypyidaw (Myanmar) (AFP) - The UN's new special envoy for Myanmar began meetings with top junta officials on Wednesday but did not respond to questions about whether she would seek to meet ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar junta chief says military open to negotiations with Suu Kyi after her trial
Yangon (AFP) - Myanmar's military chief said Friday the junta is open to negotiations with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end the crisis sparked by its coup after her trials in a junta-run court have concluded.
Top U.N. official presses Myanmar's junta leader in rare visit
A senior U.N. official said she had urged Myanmar's military ruler to release political prisoners and stop executions on Wednesday, in a rare, high-profile visit that comes amid growing violence in the country.
Myanmar junta hits back at Asean after being barred from meetings
Myanmar's military leadership on Wednesday lashed out at the Asean grouping of Southeast Asian countries for excluding its generals from regional gatherings, accusing it of caving to "external pressure".
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
UN envoy tells Myanmar military to halt executions, end violence
Noeleen Heyzer held direct talks with army chief, but was unable to meet jailed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.