Krishna goes to Myanmar to step up trade (Second Lead)

June 20th, 2011 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) In the first high level contact with the new government in Myanmar, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Monday left on a three-day visit when he is tipped to sign bilateral deals.

Accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Krishna is visiting Myanmar, a country New Delhi sees as a close partner despite Western calls to shun it, at the invitation of his counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin.

“The visit will give us an opportunity to further vitalise our multi-faceted relationship in the new political environment,” Krishna said in a statement.

“We will have an exchange of views on enhancing security cooperation as well as collaboration in connectivity, IT, energy, agriculture, power, telecommunications and infrastructure,” he said.

The minister said India and Myanmar were likely to sign a number of pacts to further strengthen bilateral cooperation.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) may be signed to link India’s Manipur state directly to Tiddim in Chin state of Myanmar for better border trade.

India has also offered to cooperate with Myanmar on a trilateral highway to Thailand.

An agreement will be signed to set up Myanmar’s second industrial park with Indian help. India will also supply 100 computers to Myanmar’s land records department.

Krishna did not say if he would interact with the Myanmar military — or the jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I do not know if I will have a chance to interact with other leaders, depending on the availability of time at my disposal - because it will be a very brief stay in Myanmar.”

Krishna will stay in Yangon and the new capital Naypyidaw.

In July last year, the head of the previous military junta, Senior General Than Shwe, visited India.

“We have made considerable progress in implementing decisions and agreements emanating from that visit… We also propose to initiate a few new projects,” Krishna said.

The foreign minister will inaugurate three of the 10 rice silos being set up with Indian assistance following a devastating cyclone three years ago.

India’s engagement with Myanmar continues despite Western leaders, including US President Barack Obama, criticising the relationship, citing the poor human rights record of the erstwhile military junta.

Indian officials say that isolating the junta only pushed it deeper into China’s arms. This New Delhi did not like.

Myanmar shares a 1,642-km winding and porous border with four northeastern states of India - Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.

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