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Aung San Suu Kyi wants Myanmar to have good relations with both India and China

Eyeing a resounding victory in November’s historic polls, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has questioned the secrecy surrounding an operation against Naga militants along Indo-Myanmar border by the Indian army and said she will ensure transparency in such exercises if voted to power.

The 70-year-old iconic leader, who led Myanmar’s struggle against military rule for close to three decades, said she would prefer to have “good ties” with both India and China and that her country can play a significant role in bridging differences between the two Asian giants. Exuding confidence of a landslide victory in the November 8 polls, Suu Kyi asserted that she will head the government notwithstanding a constitutional provision that barred her from occupying the top post of President. She indicated the provision will be done away with.

Disapproving of the secrecy maintained in the operation by Indian armed forces in June, she said transparency was a must as lack of it creates suspicion, which “erodes” foundation of friendship. Asked whether Indian forces will be allowed to carry out such operations inside Myanmar’s territory, if her National League for Democracy forms government, Suu Kyi said she was not aware of the existing policy but added if such exercises were allowed it will be done with transparency and not “silently and surreptitiously”.

“If we as neighbours are to establish peace along our borders and genuine understanding between the two countries, there has to be transparency,” she told Karan Thapar of India Today TV.

Suu Kyi, who had spent around 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010, said she was “saddened” when India was “turning back” on democracy to maintain good ties with the military regime but added “changes” are taking place on both the sides. She hoped India will play a major role in Myanmar’s quest for democracy in the coming days.

Recalling her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar last year, Suu Kyi said she had got the impression that he would like to help her nation in transition to democracy. “He came across as a rather reserved person…But he was not reserved to the point of being difficult. He was rather nice actually,” she said when asked about the meeting.

Asked whether India and China were competing with each other to become friends with Myanmar, she said her country can help the two countries bridge their differences.