A week after India carried out a "covert" military action against militants in Myanmar, National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval is expected to meet Myanmar government leaders on Tuesday.
Doval's two-day visit is being seen as an exercise in smoothing ties with the neighbouring country after Indian ministers upset many with their claim that the army mission chasing militants into Myanmar was a "warning to other countries".
The Economic Times reported that Doval will meet with Myanmar officials in a bid to improve bilateral security cooperation and negotiate a treaty that would help Myanmar hand over any anti-India militants in the future and check cross-border insurgency.
Interestingly, Doval was a key player in the Indian Special Forces' operation against two rebel camps in Myanmar on June 9. Doval, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau credited with many critical intelligence operations, had dropped out last minute from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bangladesh visit to plan the Myanmar operation.
He is now expected to meet with Myanmar government officials to remedy the tension over the past week after India's raid on the rebel camps. Even though the operation was minor, targeting low-level rebels, Indian ministers trumpeted it as proof that the Modi government was ready to take on any of its neighbours if it harboured anti-India militants. They were left red-faced after Myanmar confirmed that no fighting had taken place on its soil.
Earlier, the Indian army had said that it had killed many militants in the raid, but it now appears that the camps were empty at the time of the operation. So far, only seven bodies have been recovered.
"Damage limitation will be an overwhelming component of this visit after the embarrassment that has been caused to Myanmar by the intemperate statements from our ministers," said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management that tracks militant activity across South Asia, to Reuters.
"This was a relatively minor operation and will have only transient tactical and psychological significance. Operationally and logistically, the Myanmar attack was unexceptional," Sahni said.
India's mountainous northeast, bounded by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, is home to dozens of insurgent groups, some fighting for greater autonomy and others for secession.
(With Reuters inputs)