PM Modi holds talks with Myanmar Prez, stresses on cultural, commercial ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, held talks with Myanmarese President Thein Sein.  

PM Modi holds talks with Myanmar Prez, stresses on cultural, commercial ties
PM Narendra Modi holds talks with Myanmarese President Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw

Nay Pyi Taw: Kicking off his three-nation tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday landed in Myanmar, which India sees as a 'natural bridge' to southeast Asia, and held talks with Myanmarese President U Thein Sein with focus on connectivity, cultural contacts, and commercial ties.

The 45-minute talks, the first meet between the two leaders, were held shortly after Modi arrived on a two-day visit and was accorded a guard of honour. People dressed in traditional attire also flocked to greet him.

"Landed in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, to a very warm welcome! Great being in this beautiful country," Modi tweeted. He also posted a picture.


Briefing the media in Nay Pyi Taw, MEA, official spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin said the following:

This was Prime Minister’s first meeting with President Thein Sein. Prime Ministercomplimentedhim about the way in which Myanmar has gone about arranging for this summit meeting, and also recalled the warm communication that he had received from President Thein Sein at the time of his election as Prime Minister of India.

On his part President Thein Sein congratulated Prime Minister and said that they had been following events in India very closely. He said that they had also been following Prime Minister when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, and his developmental model there. Amongst the first things that President Thein Sein did was he extended an invitation to Prime Minister to visit Myanmar for a bilateral visit because today he is here for a multilateral or a plurilateral event. He said that there is a lot of commonality between India and Myanmar.

President Thein Sein said that he sees India and Myanmar as brothers. He mentioned that whenPrime Ministercomes next he should perhaps also go to Bagan and to Mandalay because there are extensive links between India and those two regions. He said that there was also theBuddhist connection too as there werealarge number of people in Myanmar who were very devout Buddhists and therefore the connect with India was that much stronger.

The three main issues that they focused on were connectivity between India and Myanmar, cultural contacts, and commercial ties.

In terms of connectivity they reviewed the major projects between India and Myanmar in terms of connectivity. These included the trilateral highway, the Kaladan project. And also Prime Minister raised the need to have the bus service between Imphal and Mandalay started at an early date.

In terms of culture they discussed about the Buddhism connect. President Thein Sein thanked Prime Minister for the students from Myanmar who are being admitted into Nalanda. As I said, he mentioned about these fraternal or brotherlycontacts as he referred.

Then there was a discussion about commercial aspects. Among the commercial aspects President Thein Sein indicated that Myanmar as a neighbour felt that as India grows and develops it would have a salutary impact on Myanmar too because India’s growth story could be of benefit to its neighbours.

They discussed various specific elements of possible commercial interactions including the possibility of India investing in some of the special economic zones in Myanmar. President Thein Sein did indicate the possibilities in some of these zones where India could invest given that the distances between some of these areas and India were very short.

Also he talked about the possibility of small and medium enterprises from India investing in areas where Myanmar needs. And there was a discussion relating to the potential of Indian companies investing in the oil and natural gas sector in Myanmar.

In addition they discussed about development cooperation projectsbetween India and Myanmar. These included development assistance that Myanmar had received from India in agriculture and in skill development.

Modi is in Myanmar on the first leg of his three-nation 10-day tour that will also take him to Australia and Fiji.

Modi arrived here by a special Air India plane in the afternoon.

Upon landing in the Myanmarese capital, he was given the ceremonial Guard of Honour.

The Indian PM is also scheduled to hold talks with opposition leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

PM Modi is in Myanmar to attend the ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

Myanmar is in the midst of a national debate on whether to allow Suu Kyi, an opposition leader, to contest the 2015 Parliamentary Elections, which she is barred from at present, due to a provision in the Constitution. Suu Kyi had last visited India in November 2012, after being freed from years-long house arrest.

From strategic point of view, Myanmar is a very important neighbour for India, both for security reasons and as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

An ambitious project is underway to develop a 3,200-km highway linking India, Myanmar and Thailand. It was originally envisaged to be completed around 2017 but it is behind schedule and is now expected to be completed in 2018.

Before leaving New Delhi earlier this morning, PM Modi asserted that ASEAN is at the core of India's 'Act East' policy.

"ASEAN is at the core of our Act East Policy and at the centre of our dream of an Asian century, characterised by cooperation and integration," the Prime Minister said.

Modi said he was looking forward to discussing with ASEAN leaders how to take "our relationship to a new level, which will supplement our deepening bilateral ties with each member".

Noting that no other region in the world embodies so much dynamism or faces so many challenges as the region spanning the Indian Ocean, continental Asia and Pacific Ocean, he said the East Asia Summit has the potential to shape this region and the world's future.

"At the East Asia Summit, I look forward to discussing with ASEAN and seven global leaders how we can strengthen regional institutions, international norms and regional cooperation in pursuit of peace, stability and prosperity," the PM said in a statement.

PM Modi will attend the 12th ASEAN-India Summit and the 9th East Asian Summit in Nay Pyi Taw on November 12 and 13 respectively. In Australia, he will be attending the G-20 Summit in Brisbane on November 15-16.

On the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, PM Modi is set to hold “one-on-one meetings” with an array of world leaders, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy Brey. A meeting with US President Barack Obama is also planned.

In Australia, PM Modi will also hold talks with the Australian leadership, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on bilateral issues as well as address the Indian diaspora Down Under. The focus point of the Australia visit will be talks on the bilateral nuclear deal under which Canberra will supply uranium to New Delhi for its energy needs.

"While we have much in common with Australia, our political, strategic and economic relations have been below potential," he said.

Pitching for closer strategic partnership with Australia, he said it will support India's economic goals, "promote our security interests, including maritime security, and reinforce our efforts to foster a climate of peace and stability in our extended continental and maritime neighbourhood."

Modi will be the first Indian PM to visit Australia in 28 years since Rajiv Gandhi in 1986.

The PM will reach Fiji, his final stop, on November 19 for bilateral talks with the leadership of the Pacific nation. It will be the first visit to Fiji by an Indian PM since 1981 when Indira Gandhi had travelled to the island nation.

Modi said it will be his privilege to visit Fiji, with which India shares "historical and ethnic links', soon after the return of democracy in September this year.

"We also owe them a debt of gratitude for hosting our scientists on the island in support of our Mars Mission," Modi, who will be meeting leaders and representatives of 12 Pacific Island nations, said.

Out of the 849,000 population in Fiji, 37 per cent people are of Indian origin. Many Indians arrived in Fiji as indentured labour in the 19th century.

(With Agency inputs)