India, Myanmar sign pacts on transport, taxation

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New Delhi, Apr 2 (UNI) India and Myanmar signed two protocols on the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport project and a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement here today.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari and Myanmar Vice Senior General Maung Aye who arrived here on a five-day visit today.

Earlier in the day, Gen Maung Aye and President Pratibha Devisingh Patil expressed satisfaction at the fast growing multifaceted bilateral relations, encompassing a wide range of areas including cross-border developmental projects, trade, IT, Telecommunication and hydrocarbon, over the telephone.

The President expressed happiness at the conclusion of the Kaladan Multi modal Transit Transport project. This project would enhance connectivity between Myanmar and India, in particular with India's North East States. The leaders noted the growing cooperation at the regional and multilateral level, especially keeping in mind India's Look East Policy and its special focus on CLMV countries in the ASEAN.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalled his meeting with the Prime Minister of Myanmar in November 2007, while talking to Gen Maung Aye over the phone.

The PM stressed the importance of pursuing various cross-border projects to promote greater connectivity and economic engagement between the two countries.

Both leaders said more needed to be done to enhance trade between the two countries and agreed to take steps to open up the existing border points in the North East States for regular trade. They also recognised the need to cooperate closely in the hydrocarbon sector. Mr Singh reiterated India's commitment to support Myanmar in the Telecommunication and the IT sectors.

Gen Maung Aye thanked India for its generous assistance inter alia for cross-border infrastructure projects, construction of roads, lines of credit and establishment of IT Centre at Yangon.

Cooperation in security matters on the India-Myanmar border was also discussed.

Dr Singh underlined the need for Myanmar to expedite the election process scheduled for 2010 and make it broad-based to include all the sections of society, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and various other ethnic groups.

The Prime Minister expressed support for the UN Secretary General's good offices and UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari's felicitation by the government of Myanmar.

Talking to Mr Ansari, Gen Maung Aye conveyed the recent initiatives taken by the Government of Myanmar on their political reform, national reconciliation process and the announcement of referendum in May 2008.

The Vice President reiterated India's support to the efforts of Mr Gambari and conveyed that India did not believe that sanctions were helpful and it might be counterproductive.

Gen Maung Aye also met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Chief of Army Staff.

The discussions covered all areas of mutual bilateral interest and the growing cooperation between India and the ASEAN.

In his speech at the dinner banquest hosted in honour of the visiting dignitary, the Vice President recalled the historical and cultural bonds between the two countries.

Calling Myanmar as a natural bridge between ASEAN and SAARC, he reiterated the mutual desire of India and Myanmar to build on the commonalities and synergies between the two countries.

Gen Maung Aye arrived on the invitation of the Vice President, leading a high level delegation, including members of the business community.

Apart from Delhi, he will also be visiting places of economic, scientific, historical and religious interest till April 6.

External Affairs Minister had visited Myanmar in January 2007. The Foreign Minister of Myanmar H E U Nyan Win had visited India in January this year and Foreign Secretary visited Myanmar in February 2008.

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