India, Myanmar to expand security cooperation

November 24th, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) India has urged Myanmar, a gas-rich southeast Asian country, to push the democratic process even as the two nations agreed to expand security cooperation to combat insurgent groups and arms smuggling.“Both countries stressed the need for greater vigilance at the border and agreed to enhance security cooperation to combat insurgent groups and arms smuggling,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement here Monday, after the two-day Foreign Office consultations between the two countries.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon held two-day talks with Myanmar’s Deputy Foreign Minister U. Kyaw Thu at Yangon that ended Sunday.

The talks covered a broad spectrum of bilateral issues, including security and border issues, trade and economic cooperation and cooperation in cross-border developmental projects, IT, energy, power and education and training.

They also reinforced the decisions taken at a joint trade committee held in October that included converting India-Myanmar border trade into normal trade, opening of a border trade point at Avakhung in Nagaland, and expanding the existing border trade items from 22 to 40. India has also announced the waiver of the ban on wheat export to Myanmar for 950 tonnes.

“Both sides expressed willingness to enter into an arrangement for long-term purchase of pulses from Myanmar,” the external affairs ministry said.

Under increasing international pressure to use its influence to persuade the junta rulers in Myanmar to pursue democratic reforms, the Indian side also pushed for expediting the process of national reconciliation in Myanmar, official sources said.

India is encouraging Myanmar to pursue political reforms according to the roadmap unveiled by the Myanmarese leadership years ago.

India’s energy ties with Myanmar are growing. The two countries recently signed an agreement on the development of Tamanthi and Shwezay hydropower projects on the Chindwin River in Myanmar.

Other energy projects include the renovation of the Tahtaychaung Hydropower Project, construction of transmission lines, replacement of transformers damaged during Cyclone Nargis, supply of biomass gasifiers and solar lamps.

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