ASEAN ambassadors to begin 5-day visit to Northeast India and Myanmar border town

04 March 2020
ASEAN ambassadors to begin 5-day visit to Northeast India and Myanmar border town
A bird's eye view at dusk, of Aizawl city, the capital of Mizoram India. Photo: EPA

In a growing indication of interest in Northeast India and bordering areas with Myanmar, Ambassadors of ASEAN countries based in New Delhi are arriving tomorrow in Mizoram State of India for a five-day visit, according to a Mizzima reporting team joining the event.

In addition, the ambassadors, accompanied by their spouses, will visit Myanmar’s Chin State afterwards. The ASEAN delegation plans to travel from Aizawl, capital of Mizoram State of India by road to the border town of Rikhawdar in Chin State on 7 March across the Rikhawdar-Zokhuthar border gate which was officially opened as an international gateway by India and Myanmar in August last year.

Two months ago, these envoys visited Manipur State of India and went up to the Moreh-Tamu crossing, another border gateway between India and Myanmar. At that time in November 2019, the ASEAN ambassadors and spouses met the Chief Minister of Sagaing Region of Myanmar in Tamu and visited the trade and tourist sites in Tamu town.

Mizoram celebrates Chapchar Kut 2020, one of its biggest festivals this week and the envoys will be in the state to participate in the festival on March 6.

Myanmar’s Mizzima Media group is the media partner for the event.

“Such visits aim to promote tourism, trade and people to people contact not only between India and Myanmar but also with ASEAN countries across all strategic crossings,” said Mizzima’s Chief Editor and Managing Director Soe Myint.

There is a great deal of excitement in official circles over the visit to Mizoram.

“This is a great opportunity for our remote state to sell ourselves. I hope we make the most of it,” said L R Sailo, former Mizoram bureaucrat and policy analyst to Northeast Now.

“The Government of Mizoram under the able leadership of Chief Minister Zoramthanga and the people look forward to this historic visit. The visit will help develop closer ties with ASEAN nations particularly with Myanmar with whom Mizoram shares not only borders but shares a lot of cultural heritage. With the Act East Policy, Mizoram hopes that ASEAN nations can help contribute to the economic growth of the state and in furthering economic ties,” Mr Pratap Chhetri from the Information and Public Relations Department of Mizoram government told Mizzima in Aizawl today.

Andrew Hangsing, Information and Public Relations Department of the Mizoram Government, said: “I truly hope this visit will promote tourism, cultural contact, brotherhood etc between the people of Mizoram and ASEAN countries, especially with Myanmar since we have so many things in common...and I also hope this will further the Indian government's Look East, Act East Policy by promoting economic cooperation, cultural ties... increase the interaction of people of Mizoram with people of Myanmar especially those we called 'zohnahthlak' living in the Chin Hills... Some of the major projects such as Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, Border Haats and Rih-Tiddim Road Project, etc. may also be expedited as a result of this visit.”

Mr Moe Kyaw Aung, Ambassador of Myanmar to India, who is the lead organizer of the trip together with his colleagues from ASEAN countries, said: “ASEAN and India are strategic partners and Myanmar is a land bridge between India and Southeast Asia. Northeast India plays an important role in the Act East Policy. There is a huge economic potential in those regions. I help organize the trip with the aim of promoting trade investment and tourism among ASEAN Myanmar and India. Previously we organized the trip to Manipur and Tamu in Sagaing region and it was successful. I expect the visit will be conducive in attracting interest from both ASEAN and India as that region is the gateway to ASEAN from India. It will bring about opportunities in the region as there are many connectivity projects going on.”

He and the other ambassadors will be visiting Mizoram between March 5 and 9.

The authorities in Chin State of Myanmar are preparing to receive the ASEAN delegation at its border town Rikhawdar on 7-8 March and expected to have interaction and meetings between the visiting ASEAN delegation and the cabinet members of Chin State. The ASEAN ambassadors and spouses are expected to visit Rih Lake, one of the famous tourist sites in the border region during their trip.