Indian Prime Minister to meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will embark on a three-day trip to Myanmar from Sunday during which he will hold talks with the leadership there and meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

It will be a first visit in 25 years by an Indian Prime Minister to the nation which is limping back to a democratic system led by Aung San Suu Kyi after decades of military rule.

Although Manmohan Singh will be the first prime minister to visit the country since 1987, it is not the first time that India is engaging Burmese leaders.
If there was decline in India's influence in Myanmar since long interval of time, there must be some reasons.

First was relation which the New Delhi established with Burma’s military junta despite international criticism in the mid-1990s as has been a steady stream of high level visits between India and Burma in recent years. Another was the decision of the junta to deport Indian residents and isolate itself from the world.

A meeting with Nobel Peace prize winning democracy crusader Aung San Suu Kyi is also likely to take place during the visit. 

His talks with Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday are being seen as a sign that New Delhi wants both to reaffirm its ties with the democracy activist and to quell criticism that it had abandoned its commitment to a return of democracy in Burma.
The PM will be accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur in the visit from May 27 to 29, 2012.

He will also be accompanied by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and senior officials. A delegation of Indian business leaders will also visit Myanmar at the same time.

Measures to boost bilateral trade and expanding connectivity, including increasing the number of flights are likely to figure in the discussions. India's proposal to open a bus route from Imphal to Mandalay is also likely to come up.

During his visit, Singh will also deliver a public address on the theme "India and Myanmar: A Partnership for Progress and Regional Development" at a function organised by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute. There will also be interactions between the business delegations of the two sides.

The two sides will also discuss road projects that will boost links between India and Thailand and other East and South East Asian countries.

India, hungry for energy, will hold talks on getting greater access to Burma’s vast gas and energy resources. The two sides will announce a new bus service between Imphal in India’s northeast and Mandalay in Myanmar.
The Prime Minister would also visit the historic Shwedagon Pagoda and the 'mazar' (tomb) of the last Mughal Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar, in Yangon. He would also interact separately with the Indian community in Myanmar.

Notably, H.E. U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar, had paid a State visit to India in October 2011. 
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