Burmese military seeks stronger ties with Indonesia

Burmese military seeks stronger ties with Indonesia

Burmese military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing is in Jakarta for bilateral talks with Indonesian military counterparts. According to state-run The New Light of Myanmar, his delegation met with Gen. Moeldoko, head of the Indonesian military on Monday.

Min Aung Hlaing, in Indonesia for the first time, said he is looking to strengthen military ties with Southeast Asia’s largest nation. A relationship promising joint military exercises and reciprocal visits was suggested at the meeting, with the first such invitation being for Burmese involvement in a peacekeeping training course to be held in Indonesia.

The meeting of the two military chiefs comes at a time when Burma’s relationship with Indonesia has been tested.

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Last year Indonesian police foiled a plot to bomb the Burmese embassy in Jakarta, as the plight of the stateless Rohingya has drawn a dissenting reaction in the world’s most populous Muslim country. Eight suspects were killed and 20 arrested when Indonesian police launched a counter-terrorism operation in the wake of the plot.

Also in 2013, an explosion at a Buddhist temple in Jakarta caused damage and inflicted minor injuries to one worshipper. Again, the Rohingya issue provided the motive. A note on the bomb’s package read: “We are responding to the screams of the Rohingya.”

But despite the cultural friction, bilateral trade and investment between the two countries has improved since Burma’s admission to ASEAN in 1997, their application heavily backed by Indonesia. This month, Indonesia mining corporation PT Timah was granted a 10,000-acre tin-exploration concession in Tenasserim Division.

Burma is set to host an ASEAN military forces summit beginning next month.

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