India ready to help Myanmar in every way: Salman Khurshid



Yangon: India Saturday said it was ready to help Myanmar in every way in its transition towards achieving the "ambitious agenda" of good governance, rule of law and securing fundamental rights of citizens.

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid made the assurance at the inauguration ceremony of the International Conference on Buddhist Cultural Heritage in Yangon. The event has been organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the Myanmarese government and Sitagu Academy.

Underlining that the two countries have achieved manifold accomplishments in the past six decades, Khurshid said Myanmar is "poised at a fascinating point in its history, when it is reinventing itself and its relationship with the global community".

He said the Myanmarese government "has set itself an ambitious agenda of achieving good governance, rule of law, securing fundamental rights of citizens, reducing income disparity, economic reform and environmental conservation and political dialogue.

"We in India, stand ready to assist, in whatever way desired by the government and the people of Myanmar, in this transition, to what I would believe would create a democratic polity and lead to economic prosperity and well being of the people of Myanmar".

Myanmar under President Thein Sein has undertaken democratic reforms, including freeing pro-democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi and holding elections - which has been widely welcomed by the international community.

Western leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have visited Myanmar, praising its pro-democracy moves and aggressively pushing for trade ties with the mineral-rich nation.

Khurshid said the high level exchanges between the two countries in the past two years, including that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in May, "have imparted a momentum to our relations".

He said the two countries' initiatives in the fields of connectivity, border area development, information technology, agriculture and capacity building "are a demonstration of our resolve to create a bright future, which can be shared by both the nations".

"The Kaladan Project, connecting the Rakhine and Chin States in Myanmar with the northeastern part of India has potential to substantially increase the trade between these parts of our countries.

"The Imphal-Mandalay Bus Service and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway is expected to enable the communities across the borders to meet and create deeper economic and social bonds. So would the Border Haats that our two sides have agreed to set up along the India-Myanmar border," said Khurshid.

"India and Myanmar are bound by geography. But these bonds are reinforced, deepened and strengthened by our historical, cultural and spiritual ties, which are enduring," he said.

President Thein Sein and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had decided to organise this conference during the former's India visit in October 2011.

IANS