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India, Myanmar sign defence cooperation agreement

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The Commander-In-Chief of Defence Services of Myanmar, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, inspecting the Tri-Services Guard of Honour in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: PIB/Twitter

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Myanmar have signed a defence co-operation agreement providing for boosting bilateral military engagement, weeks after the two countries carried out a coordinated operation targeting several militant groups operating in the Northeast.

The pact was inked on Monday after Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing held extensive talks with Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik.

Hlaing, accompanied by a high-level delegation from the Myanmar Defence Services, also met Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh.

Officials said the talks were aimed at enhancing the overall defence co-operation, including strengthening training being provided to Myanmar defence personnel by India.

The two sides also explored ways to boost maritime security cooperation.

"On conclusion of the talks, India and Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defence co-operation," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Hlaing also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and congratulated him on the success in the recent parliamentary elections.

The senior general noted the rapid development of India in the past few years and also the all-round deepening of the unique relations between the two neighbours, including in the area of defence and security cooperation, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The Prime Minister recalled the warmth and hospitality extended to him during his visits to Myanmar, it said.

He noted the excellent state of bilateral cooperation in the areas of counter-insurgency, capacity building, military-to-military ties and maritime cooperation, as well as in the economic sphere and development cooperation, the statement said.

The Prime Minister reiterated India's strong commitment to work for further deepening the unique bilateral partnership with the Union of Myanmar, it said.

General Hlaing, during his visit, also met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

The visit by the Senior General comes weeks after armies of the two countries carried out a coordinated operation in their respective border areas, targeting several militant groups operating in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.

Myanmar is one of the strategic neighbours of India and shares a 1,640-km border with a number of north-eastern states, including the militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.

India has steadily increased defence co-operation with Myanmar in recent years.

The armies of the two countries carried out a three-week-long coordinated operation from May 16 to flush out several militant groups operating along the Indo-Myanmar border.

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