New Delhi, May 25 (IANS): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh goes to Myanmar on Sunday on a three-day visit during which the two countries are expected to seal a pact on a landmark bus link between Imphal and Mandalay and unveil new initiatives in expanding trade and energy cooperation.
This will be the first trip by an Indian Prime Minister to the Southeast Asian country by an Indian Prime Minister in a quarter century.
Ahead of the visit, the Cabinet on Thursday cleared the bus service linking Imphal in Manipur to Mandalay in Myanmar, setting the stage for the signing of the pact after talks between Manmohan Singh and Myanmar President Thein Sein in the Myanmarese capital Nay Pyi Taw on Monday.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Manmohan Singh at his official residence, approved, in principle, the much-awaited bus link, government sources said here. The bus link will be a signature initiative that is expected to enhance people-to-people interaction and trade between Myanmar and India's northeastern states.
Improving regional connectivity and expanding bilateral trade will be key highlights of Manmohan Singh's visit.
A slew of accords is expected to be signed after the talks between Manmohan Singh and Thein Sein. These could include a revised aviation agreement to scale up the number of flights between the two countries. India is also likely to announce a fresh line of credit for development projects in the oil-rich country.
Manmohan Singh will meet pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon Tuesday and invite her to visit India. Suu Kyi has not travelled to any foreign country or outside of Myanmar in the past 24 years.
Announcing the visit Thursday, the external affairs ministry said that the prime minister will be accompanied by his spouse Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and senior officials.
A delegation of CEOs of major Indian companies will be also in Myanmar during the prime minister's visit. The delegation will be led by Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman & Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises, and Rajya Vardhan Kanoria, Chairman & MD of Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd.
Manmohan Singh will speak on the theme "India and Myanmar: A Partnership for Progress and Regional Development" at a function organised by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute.
A visit to the historic Shwedagon Pagoda and the tomb of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor of India, in Yangon are among important highlights of the prime minister's itinerary in Myanmar.
Manmohan Singh's visit to Myanmar takes place against the backdrop of the unfolding democratic transition in the country.
India has taken positive note of the Then Sein government's steps towards democratic reforms and national reconciliation in Myanmar. In his talks with Myanmar's leaders, the prime minister is expected to underline India's full support for bolstering the democratic transformation in that country.