India to reach out to Aung San Suu Kyi during Krishna's Myanmar visit
New Delhi, June 18 (ANI): As External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna embarks undertakes a two-day bilateral visit to Myanmar from Monday, he is likely to touch base with Burmese democracy icon Aung san Suu Kyi.
Sources said Krishna has expressed a desire to meet Suu Kyi and a formal request for the meeting has been sent to the authorities in Myanmar through diplomatic channels.
If the meeting between Krishna and Suu Kyi takes place, it will be the first high-level contact with the Burmese opposition leader after more than two decades.
Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, was released last year after being under house arrest for almost two decades.
The country's military junta still does not permit her to engage in political activities.
A Nobel Laureate, Suu Kyi shares a deep bond with India, having studied there in the late eighties. She has drawn inspiration from India's freedom struggle and is an ardent follower of Gandhian non-violence.
Suu Kyi isa recipient of the 2009 Mahatma Gandhi Peace award and the 1992 Jawaharlal Nehru award for International Understanding.
She was under house arrest for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 after her victory in elections until her release on 13 November 2010.
There is a feeling among pro-democracy Burmese intelligentsia and activists that India, the world's largest democracy, has not fully stood behind Suu Kyi and has given precedence to developing relations with the military junta to safeguard its geostrategic and economic interests.
Last year, Suu Kyi, 65, told a news agency in an interview that India must live up to its reputation of being the largest democracy of the world.
"We would like India to play a more active role in trying to help in the process of democratisation of Burma and, I would like the Indian Government to engage more with us... who are working more with democracy," she said.
According to recently released Wikileaks diplomatic cables, a Joint Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, Mitra Vasishtha, had told US Political Counselor Geoffrey Pyatt on November 2, 2004, that Suu Kyi's was someone whose "day has come and gone."
Experts believe India's foreign policy fundamentals have significantly changed in recent years. India is eager to boost its investment in gas and hydro-electricity projects in Myanmar and is eyeing oil and gas fields.
New Delhi also counts heavily on the military junta's help to counter ethnic separatists operating along their remote eastern common border.
Myanmar's cooperation is also crucial for the success of India's "Look East" policy, whether it is a trilateral highway between India, Mynmar and Thailand or a Trans-Asian Railway that is to connect New Delhi with Hanoi, or the Kaladan multi-modal transport project.
A deeper economic relationship with Myanmar, in India's view, would give a tremendous boost to the development of its northeast region.
Analysts believe that while dealing with Myanmar's ruling generals, India should strike a balance by strengthening democratic forces in Myanmar. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)
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