Krishna wraps up Myanmar engagement; focus on capacity building (Roudnup)

June 22nd, 2011 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Yangon, June 22 (IANS) India Wednesday wrapped up its first high-level engagement with Myanmar’s new civilian government after signing a slew of bilateral agreements focusing on capacity building, even as a top official met the country’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who was in Myanmar on a three-day visit from Monday, met top figures in the three-month-old civilian government to explore possibilities of exhanced business and security ties between the two countries.

China, which has well-entrenched economic and bilateral ties with Myanmar, had taken the lead in engaging the civilian government when President Thein Sein went to Beijing on his first state visit in May.

Utlising well the opportunity provided by Krishna’s visit, India signed agreements to build an 80-km road between Mizoram and Chin states for $60-million, set up a vocational skills centre for Myanmar’s youth, provide $10 million aid for buying agricultural implements and to set up a research centre in the sector, apart from a promise to deploy the Archaeological Survey of India to renovate a 12th century Hindu temple in Bagan division of Mandalay.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who accompanied Krishna, took time off the busy bilateral meetings with the political leaders to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and leader of the new disbanded National League for Democracy, when they discussed India’s aid to Myanmar’s development.

Suu Kyi had been freed from 18-month house arrest by the erstwhile military junta soon after the first general elections in 20 years.

Krishna, on his part, met his Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin for detailed discussions on the bilateral relations in the fields of trade, investments, power, energy and security, apart from calling on President Thein Sein and First Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo.

During the call on the Myanmar president, Krishna expressed India’s appreciation and support for its neighbour’s efforts at democracy, apart from extending an invitation to him from Indian President Pratibha Patil to visit New Delhi.

Krishna also met the speakers of the Myanmar parliament’s 425-member National Assembly and 234-member People’s Assembly, Khin Aung Myint and Shwe Mann, where the two sides agreed to initiate exchanges between the parliamentarians of the two countries.

At his first stop during the tour in Yangon, Krishna had prayed at the popular Buddhist Shwedagon pagoda and paid homage at the tomb of Bahadur Shah Zafar, India’s last Mughal emperor exiled to then Burma after 1857 uprising was crushed by the British Raaj.

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