India and Myanmar on Tuesday agreed to enhance security cooperation to deny sanctuary to insurgent groups in each other's territory. The two countries also signed five agreements in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe. Four agreements seek to build on the developmental assistance being already provided by India and the fifth pact pertains to mutual assistance on criminal matters.
Arriving amid great international interest in the political future of Myanmar, Gen. Than Shwe informed New Delhi about the recent political developments including the groundwork for elections scheduled towards the end of the year. India once again underlined the need to comprehensively broad-base the national reconciliation process and democratic changes being introduced by Yangon.
The visit helped finetune an alternative trade access route to the North-East being built by India through Myanmar, firm up Indian financing for a major connecting road and assistance to beef up the railway infrastructure and improve telecom links.
In the area of energy, a budding area of cooperation, Myanmar welcomed the substantial additional investment for the development of two offshore blocks and construction of a natural gas pipeline.
The flagship Indian private sector project by the Tatas to set up a heavy turbo truck plant at Magway came up for review and India flagged several pending proposals which Yangon assured it would “actively facilitate.'' Specifically, Myanmar welcomed the interest of Indian mining companies in investment opportunities.
Both Dr. Singh and Gen. Than Shwe agreed that security cooperation should be given immediate attention since terrorists, insurgents and criminals respect no boundaries and undermine the social and political fabric of a nation. “Both leaders reiterated the assurance that the territory of either would not be allowed for activities inimical to the other and resolved not to allow their respective territory to be used for training, sanctuary and other operations by terrorist and insurgent organisations and their operatives,'' said the joint statement.
India also announced a grant of $10 million for agricultural machinery and Myanmar sought follow-up on technical assistance for their manufacturing. New Delhi also announced a project to set up rice silos to facilitate disaster relief operations particularly in the cyclone-prone delta areas. India renewed the agreement for providing satellite data to Myanmar.
Visiting after six years, Gen. Than Shwe interacted with the entire top leadership including President Pratibha Patil, Dr. Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.