India on Monday announced it will provide a $500 million line of credit to Myanmar as the two countries signed agreements on a range of sectors,including air services,beginning a new journey of bilateral cooperation.
On the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Myanmar in quarter of a century,Manmohan Singh held broad-ranging discussions with Myanmar President Thein Sein on a road map for bilateral cooperation and said New Delhi was committed to Myanmar’s economic development.
A Memorandum of Understanding for India’s $500 million credit line was signed between Export-Import Bank of India and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank. The line of credit was agreed upon in October last year when the Myanmar president had visited New Delhi.
The two countries also signed an air services agreement and an MoU on establishment of a joint trade and investment forum and setting up of border trade centres across the border of India and Myanmar.
The Prime Minister told Thein Sein that connectivity remains a major thrust area in India-Myanmar relations while capacity-building in Myanmar was a major priority for India’s development assistance to this country. India pledged to double the training slots of Myanmarese personnel in India.
We have embarked on a new journey of bilateral cooperation, Singh told Thein Sein,adding We are committed to strengthening our economic and development partnership.
Singh told President Sein that India was ready to share with Myanmar its experience of Parliamentary democracy and we wish you all success in your nation-building efforts and changes you are bringing about, according to MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.
The MoU relating to India-Myanmar Border Area Development envisages Indian assistance to set up schools,community areas and health centres across the border.
India has successfully tried this model of development in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and is going to replicate it for Myanmar,Indian officials said.
The agreement on border area development has important implications for security concerns of India as economic prosperity in those areas is expected to address the issue of insurgency.
Myanmar shares a 1,640-kms border with four northeastern Indian states — Nagaland,Manipur,Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh — whose insurgents often take shelter across the border.
The agreement on much-talked about passenger bus service between Imphal and Mandalay,Myanmar’s second largest city,could not be signed as Myanmar Cabinet is yet to clear it,sources said.
Among 12 agreements signed today are those between Calcutta University and Dagon University in Yangon on cooperation in research,an MoU on setting up Myanmar Institute of Information Technology,establishment of Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education in Nay Pyi Taw,setting up border ‘haats’ and a bio park in Nay Pyi Taw,on cooperation between Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses and Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS and between Indian Council of World Affairs and MISIS.
The signing of the agreements cap wide ranging and extensive talks between the Prime Minister and President Thein Sein on the second day of Singh’s visit.
Earlier,Singh,who is accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur and External Affairs S M Krishna,was given a ceremonial reception at the Presidential Palace.
Ahead of the talks,Krishna suggested that India and Myanmar should work out a joint strategy to tackle terrorism and insurgency as both the countries were facing the problem.
Also,there are insurgents on either side. So,I think we have to work out an understanding to tackle it. We have an understanding with Myanmar,we have been cooperating with Myanmar and it is necessary to deepen this cooperation, he said.
Krishna stressed on the economic content of India’s relationship with Myanmar saying this too is equally important.
Myanmar is a developing country like India. They have come out of some problems internally and now they seem to be settling down and it is about time for them to devote time and to launch a developmental agenda,I think people of Myanmar need India’s assistance and India would be willing to assist them, he said.