Krishna visiting Myanmar to engage with govt

India`s engagement with Myanmar continues strongly, despite western leaders openly criticising ties.

New Delhi: For the first time since a civilian government took over in Myanmar, India will hold a high-level engagement with it when External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will be on a three-day visit to Yangon and new capital Nay Pyi Taw beginning on Monday.

Krishna, accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, is visiting Myanmar on the invitation of his counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin.

"This will be our first engagement with Myanmar after a new civilian government assumed office in March. We have always had high-level visits to and from Myanmar and the recent visit was of Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar, in July 2010," government sources said here.

Krishna`s visit is looked at by India as "an opportunity" to engage the new civilian government headed by President U Thein Sein that took over in March this year following elections last November year.

"This visit and the meetings will give us an opportunity to take stock of our broad-based engagement with Myanmar and get a better feel of realities and the outlook of the new government," the sources said.

Krishna will meet with the Myanmar President and the foreign minister when the two sides will discuss security cooperation in the region and other initiatives underway on connectivity, information technology, energy and power, communications and infrastructure.

"There has been considerable progress in Myanmar, including the Kaladan multi-modal transport project, which has actually reached construction stage. The ground breaking ceremony was held on December 19, 2010," the sources said.

The two sides will sign memorandum of understanding on Rhi-Tiddim road between the two countries connecting India`s Manipur state directly to Tiddim in Chin state of Myanmar for border trade. India has also offered to cooperate with Myanmar on a trilateral highway to Thailand.

They will also sign an agreement setting up Myanmar`s second industrial park with Indian help. India will also supply 100 computers to Myanmar`s land records department to digitalise its operations.

"This visit will also mark the culmination of assistance from our side for rebuilding the areas in Myanmar hit by earthquakes (in March)," sources said.

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

China`s increased presence in Myanmarese infrastructure projects such as roads, ports and power plants has only contributed to the urgency in India`s efforts to have more-than-friendly relations with its neighbour.


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