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India's Modi heads to Myanmar as Rohingya refugee crisis worsens

India's Modi heads to Myanmar as Rohingya refugee crisis worsens
From Reuters - September 4, 2017

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will discuss rising violence in Myanmars western Rakhine state during a visit that begins on Tuesday, and push for greater progress on long-running Indian infrastructure projects, officials said.

India seeks to boost economic ties with resource-rich Myanmar, with which it shares a 1,600-km (1,000-mile) border, to counter Chinese influence and step up connectivity with a country it considers its gateway to Southeast Asia.

Two-way trade has grown to around $2.2 billion as India courted Myanmar following the gradual end of military rule, but Indian-funded projects have moved slowly.

Modis promises to Act East and cement ties with Indias eastern neighbor have slipped even as China has strengthened its influence.

His first bilateral visit comes amid a spike in violence in Rakhine, after a military counter-offensive against insurgents killed at least 400 people and triggered the exodus of nearly 90,000 villagers to Bangladesh since Aug. 25.

The violence could hit development of a transport corridor that begins in Rakhine, with the Indian-built port of Sittwe and includes road links to Indias remote northeast, analysts said.

Its going to be a very vexed and complex issue, said Tridivesh Singh Maini, a New Delhi-based expert on ties with Myanmar.

You need to play it very smartly. You need to make it clear that Rakhine violence has regional implications... but India will not get into saying, This is how you should resolve it.'

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