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Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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To Counter China’s Influence, India Strengthens Ties With Myanmar

Myanmar President U. Htin Kyaw's Visit to India.

(Photo : Getty Images.) India is seeking to improve its ties with Myanmar.

To consolidate its strategic ties with Myanmar, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that New Delhi unilaterally supports Myanmar on all the critical issues, adding that India would stand by Myanmar "every step of the way" as a partner.         

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Modi's made the remark at a joint press conference with Myanmar President U. Htin Kyaw, who is currently on an official visit to India. This is first high-level contact between the two countries since Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) assumed power last year.

"We recognized that our security interests are closely aligned. And, we agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other's strategic interests and concerns," Modi said at a joint press conference. "To this end, the President and I agreed to work together for the safety and security of our people. And, actively cooperate to tackle the common challenges of terrorism and insurgent activity in our region."           

India and Myanmar signed several agreements in various areas including connectivity, medicine, and renewable energy. The two countries signed an agreement for construction of 69 bridges, which includes a road in the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa section of the Trilateral Highway.

India's overtures to Myanmar come just weeks after Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's historic visit to China. India and China are currently engaged in a sort of cold war to consolidate their influence in each other's region, with China trying to strengthen its base in Indian Ocean region and India looking to consolidate its position in Southeast Asia.

China promised to build two hospitals and a bridge at the China-Myanmar border during Suu Kyi's visit. Myanmar is also dependent on China to keep a tab on some of its ethnic rebel groups. Beijing's support is immensely crucial to bringing the rebel groups to the negotiation table.

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