India, ignoring Western pressure, continues to import crude oil at a cheap rate from Russia, even after Russian invasion of Ukraine. Naturally, the Narendra Modi Administration in New Delhi has started taking various initiatives so that the pressure on India does not mount. On the other hand, New Delhi has decided to avoid the Junta Government in neighbouring Myanmar in order to please the West.
According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi would not invite the foreign minister of Myanmar to attend the India-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) meeting, to be held in the Indian capital in the third week of June 2022. The Ministry has issued a statement, saying that the foreign ministers of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam would attend the event.
According to the statement, India would invite only Civilian Government representatives to the meeting. As Foreign Minister of Myanmar Wunna Maung Lwin is also a military personnel, India has decided not to invite him. The US has already urged India not to invite Minister Lwin. A senior External Affairs Ministry official has hinted that New Delhi might invite U Chan Aye, the Permanent Secretary of the Myanmarese Foreign Affairs Ministry, to attend the meeting. In that case, Myanmar may not send Aye.
Earlier, India had invited Minister Lwin to attend an online video conference with BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand are the members of this international organisation of seven South and Southeast Asian nations. However, the US strongly criticised India for inviting the Myanmarese Minister. Since then, India has been maintaining a neutral position on Myanmar. New Delhi has also been wary of Myanmar at the UN Security Council. The South Asian nation is well aware of the fact that China is ready to seize the opportunity, if India starts vehemently opposing the Military Junta Government in Myanmar.
However, the decision not to invite Myanmar’s foreign minister or any military representative of that country to the ASEAN meeting is not new. The 10-member Political and Economic Union decided not to invite the representative of the Junta Government to the ASEAN Summit in 2021. The majority of the ASEAN member-states admitted that the Junta Government failed to deliver on its promise to restore peace in Myanmar. The UN has estimated that at least 2,000 people have been killed so far in the Junta Government’s crackdown on protesters, while many pro-Democracy protesters have been detained.
In 2021, the Western countries imposed sanctions on the Junta Government in Myanmar that deposed the elected National Unity Government (NUG), led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
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