Myanmar central to India’s ‘look east’ policy: Patil

July 27th, 2010 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Noting that India and Myanmar share deep civilisational bonds of friendship and goodwill, President Pratibha Patil Tuesday said the two countries can make contributions to regional cooperation and bring nations of the region closer.
Hosting a state banquet for Myanmar’s military ruler General Than Shwe and his wife Kyaing Kyaing, Patil said Myanmar is India’s gateway to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and also central to the country’s “look east” policy.

“As close neighbours, our two countries share deep civilisational bonds of friendships and goodwill reinforced by history, geography and culture. The common heritage of Buddhism, shared experience of colonialism and recent strides in bilateral cooperation have drawn our people closer,” she said.

“Ours is a unique relationship which has stood the test of time,” Patil added.

Against the backdrop of China’s growing clout in Myanmar, India has rolled out the red carpet to welcome Shwe, who began his five-day visit to the country Sunday by offering prayers at the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya in Bihar.

Shwe, who heads State Peace and Development Council, as the Myanmar junta calls itself, was also accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan Tuesday morning.

Shwe’s visit to India, the world’s most populous democracy, takes place days after the US renewed sanctions barring trade with companies tied to the junta in Myanmar.

India supported the pro-democracy uprising in 1988 led by iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but started engaging the junta in the mid-1990s in view of Beijing’s surging trade, energy and defence deals with Myanmar.

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