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Burma, India explore ways to improv

Burma, India explore ways to improve ties

The Asian Age
November 21, 2000

New Delhi, Nov. 20: Keeping the controversial issue of democracy on the
back burner, India explored the possibilities of improving economic
ties, border trade and jointly countering insurgency with Burma.

The visiting vice chairman of Burma?s ruling State Peace and Development
Council Gen. Maung Aye met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and
external affairs minister Jaswant Singh on Monday.

New Delhi justified playing host to the second most prominent member of
Burma?s military junta, by saying that while India supports democratic
governments, it does not interfere in the internal matters of other

With this background, New Delhi and Rangoon chalked out ways to
strengthen their ties. While India has agreed to extend $15 million
credit to Burma for sourcing industrial and electrical equipment from
this country, Rangoon offered to cooperate with India in the power
sector and supply of natural gas.

Mr Jaswant Singh, in his meeting with Gen. Maung Aye, called for
enhancing border trade and improving infrastructure. The security issues
and drug smuggling also figured in the talks.

New Delhi appreciated Burma?s support in tackling cross border terrorism
and other related problems including countering insurgent groups active
in the region. Burma has already assured India of full co-operation in
fighting some of the insurgent groups in the northeastern states and
even busted five bases of Naga militants in its territory.

On the economic front, Gen. Maung Aye offered India to explore the hydel
power potential in Burma. Gen. Aye asked India to involve itself in 750
MW Yeywa project. Mr. Singh responded by saying that New Delhi can send
a team of experts of the project. The two sides also talked about other
projects including Teamanthi hydro power project, Kaladin river
navigation and setting up deep sea port in Burma.

Both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Singh reiterated India?s commitment to
establishing closer political ties and deeper economic interaction with
Burma. They said that the two countries had civilisational
connectivities, a common cultural and religious heritage and
geographical contiguity. For India, Burma is being viewed as an
important partner as it is a member of the important ASEAN group. The
two countries recently entered the Ganga-Mekong project which aims at
enhancing ties between the two regions.

The two countries have supported each other on the international for a.
Rangoon has appreciated India?s positive approach to issues involving
Burma at ILO. New Delhi had blocked an anti-Rangoon resolution being
moved at the ILO.