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Indo-Myanamr road link by January

Indo-Myanmar road link by January'

By Our Special Correspondent
>From the Hindu Newspaper, dated November 11, 2000

NEW DELHI, NOV. 10. India and Myanmar are expected to inaugurate a key
cross-border road link early next year as part of a trans- Asian highway

 The 165 km-long India-built road from Tamu to Kalemyo in Myanmar is
expected to be inaugurated in late December or early January, a senior
foreign office official said. This road will connect India's national
highway which terminates at Moreh in Manipur. With this corridor in
place, motor vehicles from India can reach out to other parts of

 Myanmar, in turn, is being linked to the rest of South East Asia under
an on-going U.N.-sponsored trans-Asian highway project from Iran to
China. Myanmar is seen here as a land bridge which will integrate India
with South East Asia. Given its strategic geographical location, Yangon
has emerged as the centerpiece for promoting New Delhi's ``look

 Besides Tamu-Kalemyo, India is envisaging more cross- border road links
to Myanmar from its north eastern States, including Nagaland, Mizoram
and Arunachal Pradesh. These ideas are expected to be discussed during
the visit to India by the Vice Chairman of Myanmar's Peace and
Development council, General Maung Aye.

 General Maung, who begins a visit to India on November 14 will be the
highest ranking leader from Myanmar in a decade. He will be accompanied
by the Ministers of foreign affairs, finance, commerce, industry and
science and technology.

 According to officials, the Tamu Kalemyo road is expected to eventually
spur trade between India and Myanmar over land. This will supplement the
existing arrangement of cargo transportation by sea via Singapore.

 The establishment of a cross-border network is also expected to yield
benefits in the security arena. With more roads available , both
countries will be better positioned to counter insurgences which they
face, either unilaterally or through joint operations. Not surprisingly,
New Delhi and Yangon have a well established joint working group on
border management.

Trade between the two countries is currently modest, but could go up
substantially if Myanmar begins to sell natural gas to India. Foreign
companies engaged in prospecting oil and gas in the region are currently
debating the possibility of constructing a network of pipelines from
Myanmar and Bangladesh for distribution of natural gas to the Indian

 Indian officials are also discussing these possibilities either through
direct negotiations or under the framework of BIMSTEC - an economic
grouping of countries including Myanmar and Bangladesh straddling the
Bay of Bengal.

 Aware of the high strategic stakes in Myanmar, India appears fully set
to unhesitatingly engage the military government in Myanmar. General
Maung, during his stay, will hold meetings right across India's
political and bureaucratic elite.