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Monday, July 29, 2013


The Telegraph

Tuesday , July 30 , 2013

Dilemma over Myanmar navy

Sujan Dutta
Myanmar Navy chief Vice-Admiral Thura Thet Swe in New Delhi on Monday. (AFP)
New Delhi, July 29: Myanmar has sought Indian assistance to beef up its navy in a strategic development that is happy news for planners in New Delhi but the government is concerned it cannot do enough to help the country that often turns to China.
The chief of the Myanmar Navy, Vice-Admiral Thura Thet Swe, who is on a four-day visit to India, today met Indian Navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi and "discussed various proposals to further strengthen the navy-to-navy cooperation in operations, training and material support and take the existing relationship to another plane and promote capacity building and capability enhancement", an official statement said.
"Myanmar is one of our closest neighbours. We share a land border as well as a maritime border with them. On the navy-to-navy front we have had extremely cordial relations," Admiral Joshi said, welcoming Admiral Thet Swe.
Myanmar has asked India for help to service four Islander maritime surveillance aircraft that New Delhi gifted in 2007. The British-origin Islander aircraft was gifted to the Myanmar junta despite objections from the UK. The Indian Navy was on the verge of phasing-out the vintage aircraft. But Myanmar's small navy found them useful.
Myanmar has also asked India for offshore patrol vessels and fast attack craft made in Indian defence shipyards. But Indian shipyards are chock-full with orders from the navy.
This March, the Indian and Myanmar navies began co-ordinating patrolling along their maritime boundary. The Indian Navy, that closely watches the growth of the Chinese naval footprint in the Indian Ocean region, itself assesses that the opportunity afforded by Myanmar should be utilised.
Despite the distrust of the Myanmar junta for many years and in the face of western opposition, New Delhi had kept a working relationship going with the military establishment. In these years, China has made deep inroads in Myanmar, contributing not only to building roads and a pipeline, but also to training the Myanmarese military.
With Bangladesh headed for an uncertain election at the end of the year, Myanmar's request for Indian military assistance marks a major initiative that is set to impact India's eastern theatre and boundaries in the Northeast.
The Myanmar Navy chief, who met army chief General Bikram Singh, defence secretary R.K. Mathur and vice-chief of the air force Air Marshal Arup Raha, will be given a tour of the Kochi-headquartered Southern Naval Command over the next two days.
The Myanmar Navy has also requested India to increase the quota of sailors and officers in Indian military training academies.


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