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Myanmar second top leader's India visit further cement bilateral ties
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13:36, April 07, 2008

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The official visit to India of Myanmar's second top leader Vice Senior-General Maung Aye, which concluded on Sunday, has further cemented the friendly relations and promoted the cooperation between the two countries, according to Monday's official media.

The visit of Maung Aye, who is Vice-Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, lasted for five days from April 2-6.

Calling on Indian President Ms Pratibha Patil during the visit, Maung Aye said strengthening of friendly relations and cooperation brings benefits to the two countries and helps in the regional peace and prosperity, adding that there can be mutual benefits by combining natural resources of Myanmar and technology of India, said a report of the official newspaper New Light of Myanmar.

Patil expressed India's desire to gear up economic cooperation, saying that India is ready to provide technical assistance to Myanmar especially information and communications technology as well as in the energy sector. Politically, she said India encourages and welcomes Myanmar's political reform and understands Myanmar’s efforts.

Meeting with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Maung Ayesaid "there is no big problem between the two countries. Both countries are good neighboring nations upholding the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence". Realizing that South Asian Association of the Regional Cooperation (SAARC) plays a key role in promoting regional peace and stability and social economic cooperation, Maung Aye stressed the need for the two countries to reciprocally join hands in all regional and international aspects.

Maung Aye pointed out that bilateral trade gradually increases although it is yet to meet the target, emphasizing the need also to upgrade the border trade to the normal one between the two countries.

In the security sector, Maung Aye assured that Myanmar will never allow using its territory to any organization that harm neighboring countries, while acknowledging that likewise, India does not allow its territory to movement of organizations against Myanmar.

At the meeting, Singh said India gives special consideration to relationship with Myanmar and wishes to promote friendly ties and cooperation between the two countries with priority being given tothe development of border areas and prevailing of peace and stability there.

Singh expressed belief that Myanmar citizens know Myanmar affairs and they have the right to decide their own fate.

During Maung Aye's New Delhi visit, three documents between the two governments were signed -- a framework agreement on the construction and operation of a multi-modal transit and transport facility on the Kaladan River connecting the Sittway Port in Myanmar with the Indian state of Mizoram; a memorandum of understanding on intelligence exchange to combat transnational crime including terrorism; and an agreement on avoidance of double taxation for investors from the two countries and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

The framework agreement includes upgrading of Sittway Port of Myanmar, improvement tasks for running of vessels along the route of Kaladan from Sittway Port to Sitpyitpyin and construction of roads from Sitpyitpyin to the border region.

The re-visit of Maung Aye to India in eight years signified a step forward in the bilateral ties and cooperation between Myanmar and India.

Invited by Indian Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Maung Aye's India trip, which is the second since 2000, also came more than three years after that to New Delhi by Myanmar SPDC Chairman Senior-General Than Shwe in 2004.

Relations between Myanmar and India have been growing during the past few years with cooperation in all sectors, particularly in those of trade and economy. The Indian statistics show that Myanmar-India bilateral trade reached 650 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2006-07, up from 557.68 million dollars in 2005-06.The latest Myanmar official figures for the first half (April-September) of 2007-08 stood 468.39 million dollars with Myanmar's exports to India taking 380.7 million dollars.

India stands as Myanmar's fourth largest trading partner after Thailand, China and Singapore and also Myanmar's second largest export market after Thailand, absorbing 25 percent of its total exports.

The Myanmar compiled figures also show that India's investment in Myanmar reached 219.57 million U.S. dollars as of September 2007, of which 137 million were drawn into the oil and gas sector in the first half (April-September) of the fiscal year 2007-08.

Myanmar and India share a border of over 1,600 kilometers.


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