Dr Singh is the latest in a series of top-level visitors
INDIA’S prime minister signed a raft of deals with Myanmar on Monday (May 28) in a historic visit aimed at boosting trade and energy links.
Dr Manmohan Singh, the first Indian prime minister to visit in a quarter of a century, met President Thein Sein in the capital Naypyidaw as energy-hungry New Delhi woos Myanmar after dramatic reforms ended its international isolation.
The neighbours signed 12 agreements covering an array of issues including security, development of border areas, a trade and investment pact and transport links between the two countries.
Dr Singh will travel to the main city of Yangon for talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday (May 29), in a move seen as a sign that India also wants to repair links with the veteran activist.
New Delhi was once a staunch supporter of the democracy icon, but changed tack in the mid-1990s as it sought closer ties with Myanmar, and drew international criticism for its engagement with the former junta.
India has since pointed to recent dramatic reforms under a new quasi-civilian regime, including Suu Kyi’s election to parliament in April by-elections, as a validation of its stance.
Dr Singh is the latest in a series of top-level visitors to Myanmar as the international community begins easing sanctions, raising hopes that the impoverished nation could be the next big frontier market.
He is seen as looking to expand India’s influence after half a century of military rule left Myanmar heavily reliant on Chinese investment and political support.
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