Indian rebels on Burma talks agenda

Oct 13, 2009 (DVB), The insurgency along India's border with Burma is likely to feature highly in talks between Burmese officials and India's army chief now in Burma, the director of the Burma Campaign in Delhi said.

General Deepak Kapoor arrived in Burma on Sunday, reportedly to discuss closer military cooperation between the two countries, and has met with Senior General Than Shwe.

"The Indian interests are to cooperate with the military junta to counter the northeast insurgency that is based in Burma", said Kim, director of the Delhi-based Burma Centre, adding that "there have been a lot of complaints coming from the [Indian] military about the inaction of the junta".

His comments were echoed by Dr S Chandrasekharan, of the India-based South Asia Analysis Group, who said that the Burmese junta's "efforts towards Indian insurgents are restricted".

The region has been problematic for the Indian government for some time, with several secessionist movements active along the border.

China has also reignited fresh territorial claims over 90,000 square kilometres of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, with Chinese troops reportedly deployed along the border.

The Chinese are also alleged to be planning to build a railway to the border that will allow it to transport military forces rapidly to the Indian frontier and help accommodate a potential incursion.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Ma Zhaoxu, issued an admonishment to Delhi following the recent visit of an Indian official to the disputed region.

"We demand the Indian side pay attention to the serious and just concerns of the Chinese side, and do not provoke incidents in the disputed region, in order to facilitate the healthy development of Sino-Indian relations."

The Burmese junta's nascent plan to create border security forces out of ceasefire groups has also raised concern in India. The government is said to be concerned that these groups, many of them ethnic insurgents themselves, will not be able to contain India's northeastern rebels.

Relations between India and Burma have warmed since the mid-1990's when the Indian government embarked on a 'Look East' policy.

India then entered into what analyst Reneud Egretau has called a "great game", with India battling China for influence over the strategically-placed Burma, and both nations vying for natural resources there.

It is rumoured that during the 2006 visit of then-Indian president, A P J Abdul Kalam, the Indian government agreed not to bring up Burma's human rights record at the United Nations, a factor which has significantly warmed relations.

India however still lacks the bargaining power that China wields with its Security Council veto, often winning it gas contracts despite bidding less than the Indians.

Reporting by Joseph Allchin

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