It's been some time since External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj went on a foreign visit. Perhaps her last big outing was in April when she visited Iran. Swaraj, however, will be making a very important trip to neighbouring Myanmar on August 22. This will be the first political exchange between the two countries after the new National League for Democracy government led by Aung San Suu Kyi took over in March.
Swaraj is scheduled to meet Myanmarese President U Htin Kywaw and Suu Kyi. The two countries are expected to focus their talks on bilateral issues as well as the upcoming BRICS - BIMSTEC (Brazil Russia China India South Africa - Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) outreach summit that India will host later this year.
Myanmar forms a crucial part of India's Look East policy. Despite a common border, the Indian influence in Myanmar hasn't been as big as China's footprint there. Significantly, Suu Kyi is just wrapping up her three day trip to China (August 17 to 19), her first important diplomatic outing after her government came to power. She handles foreign affairs for the government. The trip focussed on several Sino-Myanmarese issues of conflict, dominated by the construction of a hydro electric project on the border of the two countries which was suspended in 2011 over green lobby protests.
In recent years, bilateral ties between India and Myanmar have been refreshed. Connectivity is one of the big infrastructural projects linking the two nations. Swaraj will be accompanied by foreign secretary S. Jaishankar.