NEW DELHI, June 20 (IANS): In India's first high-level contact with the new civilian government in Myanmar, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Monday left for the southeast Asian nation on a three-day visit, during which he is expected to sign several bilateral deals.
Krishna, accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, is visiting neighbouring Myanmar at the invitation of his counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin. He left in a special aircraft at around 11 a.m.
"The visit will give us an opportunity to further vitalise our multi-faceted relationship in the new political environment. We will have an exchange of views on enhancing security cooperation as well as our collaboration in the fields of connectivity, IT, energy, agriculture, power, telecommunications and infrastructure," Krishna said in a statement prior to his departure.
"We are likely to sign a number of memoranda of cooperation to further strengthen bilateral cooperation," he added.
The two sides are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Rhi-Tiddim road between the two countries, connecting India's Manipur state directly to Tiddim in Chin state of Myanmar for border trade. India has also offered to cooperate with Myanmar on a trilateral highway to Thailand.
They will also sign an agreement to set up Myanmar's second industrial park with Indian help. India will also supply 100 computers to Myanmar's land records department.
On a question whether he will meet other Myanmarese leaders, he said: "I do not know if I will have a chance to interact with other leaders, depending on the availability of time at my disposal - because it will be a very brief stay in Myanmar".
Krishna will stay in Yangon and the new capital Naypyidaw.
There had earlier been some speculation that Krishna may meet opposition leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Last July, the head of the previous Junta regime, Senior General Than Shwe, had visited India.
"We have made considerable progress in implementing decisions and agreements emanating from that visit. Construction had commenced on Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. We also propose to initiate a few new projects," Krishna said.
The foreign minister will also inaugurate three out of the ten rice silos being set up with the help of Indian assistance, following the devastating cyclone Nargis three years ago.
India's engagement with Myanmar continues despite western leaders, including US President Barack Obama, openly criticising the relationship, citing the poor human rights record of the erstwhile military junta.
China's increased presence in Myanmarese infrastructure projects such as roads, ports and power plants has only contributed to the urgency in India's efforts to have more-than-friendly relations with its neighbour.