Myanmar junta boss Min Aung Hlaing called India a good neighbour and friend as he visited the bilateral Kaladan transport project in Myanmar this week and demanded its rapid completion. The multi-modal project connects Kolkata with Sittwe in Rakhine State by sea. In Myanmar, the project will link the Sittwe seaport to Paletwa in Chin State via the Kaladan River and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram in northeast India. The project is crucial for India’s Act East Policy and to counter Chinese influence in Myanmar through its Belt and Road Initiative. As Min Aung Hlaing has usually visited Russia-backed projects since his 2021 coup, his inspection of Kaladan demonstrates his strong ties with India, observers say. In November, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra visited Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw and discussed accelerating Kaladan construction. The project, started 12 years ago and aimed at providing an alternate route to India’s landlocked northeast, is scheduled to be completed this year. But challenges remain as the regime’s ceasefire with the Arakan Army is fragile and fresh clashes could break out anytime. Moreover, there is strong resistance against the regime in Chin State which will threaten the project, as reported by The Irrawaddy.
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