Indian PM Visits Burma on Sunday

By Zarni Mann 25 May 2012

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh begins a three-day official visit to Burma on Sunday.

According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, he will be accompanied by Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna, other senior officials and Indian business leaders.

The Indian ministry said that Singh and his delegation will meet with President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw and will hold discussions on bilateral and regional issues, and other matters of mutual interest. Singh is scheduled to deliver a public address at a function organized by Burma’s business community. He will also travel to Rangoon to meet Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

On the agenda are expected to be: an agreement on a ferry service between either Chennai or Kolkatta and Rangoon; plans to improve railways and roads; to improve border security, and to locate new border trading points; and plans to induce more airlines to fly between the two countries.

Discussions are also slated to take place on the hydropower projects in Htamanthi on the Chindwin River, the Shwe Sa Yay transformer in Mandalay Division, and the Kaladan project.

Burma will also seek Indian support in the education and health sectors, and request a reduction on the terms on a US $500 million line of credit, the Indian ministry announced.

Singh will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Burma in 25 years.

Ahead of his visit, Singh on Thursday gave the green light from New Delhi on the much awaited passenger bus link between the two countries. The bus route will link Imphal, the capital of Manipur State, to Mandalay.

The buses are schedule to leave Imphal every Monday. At the border, passengers will be required to change buses to continue their journey. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it expects an  agreement confirming the bus route to be signed in Naypyidaw during the prime minster’s visit.