As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh begins a three-day visit to Myanmar he said India would explore new initiatives and define a roadmap for further boosting of bilateral ties that will focus on trade, investment and connectivity.
Manmohan Singh will become the first Indian prime minister in 25 years to visit Myanmar on an official trip to boost trade and connectivity with the gateway to Southeast Asia.
Pointing out that India attaches the highest importance to its relations with Myanmar, a "close friend and neighbour", Mr Singh said in a statement shortly before his departure for Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar's new capital, that "recent years have witnessed significant strengthening and expansion of our bilateral relations" and his visit "will provide an opportunity to review the progress in implementation of decisions" taken during the "highly successful visit" of Myanmar President Thein Sein to India in October last year.
The Prime Minister, who will hold talks with Sein tomorrow at Nay Pyi Taw, said that during his visit to Myanmar he hopes to focus on "stronger trade and investment links, development of border areas, improving connectivity between our two countries and building capacity and human resources".
"We also hope to sign a number of agreements and MoUs to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation in these areas, besides promoting people-to-people contacts," Singh said.
The two countries are expected to sign a number of agreements in energy sector and connectivity during the visit.
The high-points among the slew of agreements will be the ones relating to an offshore gas block awarded to private Indian company Jubilant Energy in global competition and a passenger bus service between Imphal and Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city after Yangon.
Mr Singh, who will also meet leader of the opposition and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on Tuesday, said India welcomes Myanmar's "transition to democratic governance and the steps taken by the government of Myanmar towards a more broad-based and inclusive reconciliation process and offered to share "democratic experiences" with that country.
Since taking office more than a year ago, President Thein Sein has surprised many critics by releasing Suu Kyi from 15 years of house arrest and allowing her National League for democracy (NLD) to contest and win parliamentary elections in
April. He also initiated processes to free other political prisoners, also opening talks with ethnic rebels, easing media censorship and restoring labour unions right to strike.
Singh said he was looking forward to address a cross-section of Myanmar society and interact with the Indian and Indian-origin community in Yangon on the final day of his visit.
Singh said he is looking forward to visiting the historic Shwedagon Pagoda, a testament to 2600 years of Buddhist heritage, and the mazar (the grave) of the last Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar, in Yangon.
The Pagoda houses the hairs of Lord Buddha who had given them to two merchant brothers in return for a honey cake they offered to him.