India and Myanmar are to promote new initiatives and define a roadmap for boosting cooperation between the countries, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, before leaving on a three-day visit to Myanmar on Sunday.
Stressing India's desire to have strong bilateral relations with Myanmar, Singh said in a statement that India considers Myanmar "a close friend and neighbour".
Pointing to the significant expansion in trade and economic relations between the countries, Singh said his visit would help review the progress in the implementation of bilateral projects.
"Stronger trade and investment links, development of border areas, improving connectivity between our two countries and building capacity and human resources are areas that I hope to focus on during my visit, said Singh.
India looks forward to signing several bilateral agreements with Myanmar during the visit, especially in the energy sector. The unexplored but resource-rich economy in the so far hermit country is a major attraction for India.
"We also hope to sign a number of agreements/Mous to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in these areas, besides promoting people-to-people contacts," said Singh.
According to a Hindu report: "High points among the slew of agreements will be the ones relating to an offshore gas block awarded to private Indian company Jubilant Energy in global competition and a passenger bus service between Imphal and Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city after Yangon."
Welcoming Myanmar's transition to democratic governance and the ongoing reconciliation process by the junta-supported government and the opposition, he said India would be happy to share its experience with Myanmar.
Pointing to the history India shares with Myanmar, Singh said he would initiate steps to strengthen the cultural and societal bonds between the people of both countries. The prime minister will also be addressing a cross-section of people including those of Indian origin.
During his visit, he will also meet opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was instrumental in ushering in democracy in the nation. "I will have an opportunity to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I also look forward to addressing a cross-section of Myanmar society and interact with the Indian and Indian-origin community," Singh said.
He is being accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and senior officials. This will be the first visit by an Indian prime pinister to Myanmar after a gap of 25 years. The last visit to Myanmar by an Indian prime minister was in 1987 December by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
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