Jaishankar meets Myanmar, Thailand counterparts; discusses India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway

BANGKOK, July 16: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday met his Myanmar counterpart Than Swe and discussed expediting projects, especially the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway, and underlined the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the border areas.
Jaishankar, who arrived here from Indonesia on Saturday on an official visit, also met Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.
“Our discussions focused on connectivity initiatives that have a larger regional significance. These will also be discussed at the MGC meeting this afternoon. Stressed the importance of expediting projects that have faced challenges in the recent past, especially the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway,” Jaishankar said in a tweet after his meeting with Myanmar foreign minister on the sidelines of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) meeting.
On Saturday, Jaishankar said that the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway had been a “very difficult project” because of the situation in Myanmar and that it was the government’s priority to find ways to resume it.
India, Thailand and Myanmar are working on about 1,400-km-long highway that would link the country with Southeast Asia by land and give a boost to trade, business, health, education and tourism ties among the three countries.
Around 70 per cent of construction work on the ambitious trilateral highway has been completed.
The strategic highway project, which will connect Moreh in Manipur with Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar, has been delayed.
Earlier, the government was aiming to make the highway operational by December 2019.
During his talks with Than Swe, Jaishankar also underlined the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the border areas, saying these have been “seriously disturbed recently and any actions that aggravate the situation should be avoided”.
“Flagged concerns about human and drug trafficking. Urged stronger cooperation among relevant parties for the early return of trafficked victims,” he said.
As an immediate neighbour, India is concerned about the humanitarian situation in Myanmar, Jaishankar said.
He proposed people-centric initiatives aimed to address the pressing challenges.
“India supports the democratic transition process in Myanmar and highlights the need for return of peace and stability. We will closely coordinate our policy with ASEAN in this regard,” he added.
Jaishankar later met his Thai counterpart Pramudwinai.
“Continuing our conversations from Jakarta. Pleased to meet Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai of Thailand today. Look forward to the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) meeting this afternoon,” he tweeted.
In Bangkok, Jaishankar will participate in the 12th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation Mechanism and attend the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat. (PTI)