India-Myanmar likely to finalise Kaladan project

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New Delhi, Dec 29: India and Myanmar are likely to finalise the multi-crore Kaladan river project during the five-day visit to India by Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win, beginning from Monday.

The Myanmar Foreign Minister, who will be here from December 31 till January 4, will have discusssions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on January 2. He will also call on Vice President Hamid Ansari the same evening. Official sources said the visit is primarily aimed at finalising the Kaladan river project which envisages constructing roads and waterway links for easy accessibility for Indian goods from northeastern states to the Bay of Bengal through Myanmar.

Both governments have already approved the 100 million US Dollar project and signed an agreement for construction of roads for transport of goods from Kolkata.

Talks are at a vital stage on the Kaladan project which was considered an alternative after Bangladesh dilly-dallied India's request for transit.

A road--the TKK highway, connecting Tamu in Manipur with Mandalay in Myanmar--was inaugurated by the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh in February 2001.

The two countries will also establish a Center for Enhancement of Information Technology (IT) skill in Yangon under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed during a visit here by Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu early this month.

The military regime in Myanmar came under sharp attack recently for its crackdown on pro-democracy activists and India was urged to exercise its influence with Yangon to restore democracy in the country.

India and Myanmar also cooperate against terrorism as a faction of Northeast insurgents--the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang faction)--operates from its base in jungles bordering Myanmar.


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