India sees connectivity through Myanmar as crucial for its Look East Policy and development of ties with the Asean countries.
Briefing journalists on Monday on the talks between the visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Myanmar President Thein Sein, and the subsequent joint statement, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the Imphal-Mandalay bus service was stuck for now, as there was no all-year road that could be committed for the link on the Myanmar side, but the two leaders agreed to introduce it at the earliest after putting the infrastructure in place.
What may be achieved earlier are more air connections, with the two sides signing a new pact providing for more carriers to operate between the two countries. At present, there are three weekly flights, connecting Kolkota and Yangon. Making the route more attractive to airlines, the new agreement enables carriers to combine flights to Myanmar with other destinations in South East Asia.
Both sides are also considering the feasibility of rail links, and have agreed to set up a joint committee to explore the possibility of freight transport from India through Myanmar to the South East Asian region.
While work on the Kaladan waterways-cum-road project is still ongoing, the two sides have also finalised a land customs station at Zorinpuri in Mizoram.
On the other important road link, which ambitiously seeks to connect Moreh in Manipur with Mae Sot in Thailand through Myanmar, Dr. Singh announced that India would repair and upgrade sections of the Tamu-Kalewa-Yargyi road, while Myanmar has undertaken to upgrade a further stretch on its side, aimed to make trilateral connectivity a reality.
Dr. Singh praised Mr. Thein for his efforts to make peace with democratic parties as well as ethnic insurgent groups. Mr. Thein had surprised the world with an unexpected visionary and inclusive approach to national reconciliation.
The following is the list of agreements and Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries on Monday:
— Memorandum of Understanding regarding $500 million Line of Credit.
— Air Services Agreement between India and Myanmar.
— Memorandum of Understanding on the India-Myanmar Border Area Development.
— Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum.
— Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education (ACARE).
— Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of Rice Bio Park at the Department of Agricultural Research in Nay Pyi Taw.
— Memorandum of Understanding towards setting up of Myanmar Institute of Information Technology.
— Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Dagon University and Calcutta University.
— Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and Indian Council of World Affairs.
— Agreement on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
— Cultural Exchange Programme (2012-2015).
— Memorandum of Understanding on establishing of Border Haats across the border between Myanmar and India.