Manmohan arrives in Myanmar: First Indian PM to visit in 25 years (Second Lead)May 27th, 2012 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS
Nay Pyi Taw, May 27 (IANS) Manmohan Singh, the first Indian prime minister to visit Myanmar in 25 years, arrived Sunday in its new capital on a three-day trip that will lay a roadmap for trade and connectivity with the oil-rich neighbour.
“I look forward to meeting the leadership of Myanmar…” he said soon after being accorded a guard of honour at the airport here.
The last Indian prime minister to visit the country was Rajiv Gandhi in 1987.
Before leaving from New Delhi for Myanmar, a country that is witnessing dramatic reforms, Manmohan Singh said he will seek to strengthen ties.
“We will consider new initiatives and define a roadmap for the further development of our cooperation in the years ahead,” he said in a statement.
The Indian leader hailed Myanmar’s transition to democracy and steps taken by President Thein Sein for a broad-based and inclusive reconciliation process vis-a-vis the opposition.
He said he will focus on trade and investment, development of border areas and improving connectivity among other things in his talks with Myanmar leaders.
“India welcomes Myanmar’s transition to democratic governance… We stand ready to share our democratic experiences with Myanmar.”
Manmohan Singh said India hoped to sign a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding to strengthen bilateral cooperation besides promoting people-to-people contacts.
He said the visit will provide an opportunity to review the progress in the implementation of decisions taken during the Myanmar president’s visit to India in October last year.
An official, while explaining India’s ties with Myanmar, said: “We are neighbours…we might have differences…one has to deal with reality as it is.”
With reference to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, he said that “primarily there is patriotism that has bought change in Myanmar”.
To a query regarding insurgents from India, particularly those from the northeast, he said that “security is in their interest. It is in our interest”.
The prime minister flew into Nay Pyi Taw, where Monday he meets President Thein Sein who heads the nominally democratic government.
The prime minister is accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and senior officials.
Improving regional connectivity and expanding bilateral trade will be key highlights of the visit by Manmohan Singh, who is expected to underline India’s full support for bolstering the democratic transformation in that country.
A delegation of CEOs of major Indian companies is also in Myanmar during the prime minister’s visit.
In Yangon, the prime minister will meet India-educated opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party swept the April 1 by-elections and became a parliamentarian at the beginning of this month.
Manmohan Singh will visit the historic Shwedagon Pagoda and the mazar of the last emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar.
He will also address a cross-section of Myanmarese society and interact with the Indian and Indian-origin community.
India shares a 1,643-km-long border with Myanmar along Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.
The prime minister returns home Tuesday night.
(Rahul Dass can be contacted at email@example.com)
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