New Delhi: India and Myanmar are likely to sign a clutch of pacts during senior general Than Shwe’s five-day state visit to India starting Sunday, a government official said.
The two countries are expected to ink a treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters—key to combating transnational organised crime, terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and smuggling of arms and explosives.
Another accord initialled will see the Archeological Survey of India being tasked with restoration of the famous Ananda Temple in Bagan. The medieval Buddhist temple in central Myanmar is one of the major tourist attractions in the country.
The nations will also sign an agreement on small development projects that provide Indian funding for village and town peoples’ uplift programmes and another on science and technology cooperation, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The accords reflect the strong ties between New Delhi and Myanmar’s ruling junta. Once a staunch backer of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, New Delhi switched tracks when it realised it needed Myanmar’s help to crack down on northeast insurgents, who were using Myanmar as a base for anti-India operations.
An increasing Chinese presence has also played its part in India adopting a pragmatic approach as have discoveries of huge natural gas deposits that New Delhi wants to exploit to fuel its economic growth.
Than Shwe’s visit also comes before Myanmar holds its first polls in 20 years, scheduled later this year. This week, the Association of Southeast Nations grouping, in an unusual step, demanded the ruling junta hold free, fair and inclusive elections at its meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. Such straight talk is rare from the 10-member bloc, of which Myanmar is part, given its policy of not interfering in one another’s domestic affairs.