Leaders of India and Myanmar held extensive talks on Monday to bring a new momentum in cooperation in agriculture, banking, power and energy sectors between the two countries. Both countries also agreed to work towards a long-term and a mutually beneficial arrangement for trade in pulses.
Four agreements, including the agreement pertaining to the construction of 69 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa section of the trilateral highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand, were inked at the end of talks between Prime MinisterNarendra Modi and Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw.
The two sides signed MoUs to boost cooperation in areas of connectivity, medicine and renewable energy.
Reading out a statement to the media, Modi later said: “We recognised that our security interests are closely aligned. And, we agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other’s strategic interests and concerns.”
This was the first top-level engagement between the two countries after iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party National League for Democracy wrested power in Myanmar from the military junta. Myanmar, considered one of India’s strategic neighbours, shares a 1,640-km long border with a number of North-Eastern states, including militancy-infested Nagaland and Manipur.
Calling Myanmar a ‘bridge’ that connects India with South East Asia, Modi said: “Our discussions today have enabled us to evolve a road map and an action agenda for our cooperation.” The visiting President, on his part, said his government wants to strengthen ties with India.
Earlier, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Myanmar President who is on a four-day India visit. This is Htin Kyaw’s first overseas trip after assuming charge of the top office nearly five months ago following the landslide victory of Suu Kyi’s party.
He arrived in the Buddhist pilgrimage town of Gaya on Saturday where he visited the Mahabodhi Temple – the most sacred of Buddhist shrines – Daijokyo Buddhist Temple and Myanmar Buddhist Vihara. He travelled to Agra on Sunday and paid a visit to the Taj Mahal before arriving here.
China has been increasing its footprint in Myanmar and making huge investments in several major projects. For India too, Myanmar is a strategic neighbour.