Myanmar military supremo plans goodwill visit to India

July 22nd, 2010 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Yangon, July 22 (DPA) Myanmar’s junta chief Senior General Than Shwe is scheduled to pay a “goodwill” visit to India next week, state media reports said Thursday.
The official visit, at the invitation of Indian President Pratibha Patil, is scheduled for July 25 to 29, The New Light of Myanmar said.

Than Shwe, who heads the State Peace and Development Council - as Myanmar’s junta styles itself - last visited India in October 2004.

India has cultivated close diplomatic ties with military-run Myanmar over the past decade to pursue economic interests and counterbalance China’s growing clout in the country, which sits between the two Asian giants.

Myanmar government sources said Than Shwe’s visit was “religious in nature”, although it would include discussions on border security and economic cooperation.

Myanmar, a former British colony with close economic ties to India prior to independence in 1948, has been under military rule since 1962.

The current regime is deemed a pariah by Western democracies for its refusal to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest, and reluctance to introduce democratic reforms.

India, by contrast, is deemed Asia’s most dynamic democracy.

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