SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR, H.E. SENIOR GENERAL THAN SHWE
New Delhi, 27th July 2010
Your Excellency Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council,
Madame Kyaing Kyaing,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome Your Excellency Senior General Than Shwe, Madam Kyaing Kyaing, and your distinguished delegation to India. We feel greatly privileged to have you amongst us today.
As close neighbours, our two countries share deep civilisational bonds of friendship and goodwill reinforced by history, geography and culture. The common heritage of Buddhism, the shared experience of colonialism, the struggle for independence and the more recent strides in bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas have drawn our peoples together. Ours is a unique relationship which has stood the test of time.
Excellency, your 2004 landmark visit to India ushered in an era of renewed engagement between our two countries. It signalled the common desire of the two countries, sharing a border of more than 1640 kilometres, to forge mutually beneficial cooperation, in particular in the North East region of India.
Much has happened in the more than five years since Your Excellency's visit. We have witnessed significant high-level exchanges. The Presidential visit from India to Myanmar in 2006 was followed by the visit of Vice Senior General Maung Aye in 2008 and the visit of the Vice-President of India to Myanmar in 2009. Our engagement has been productive. It has served to strengthen mutual understanding of our respective priorities, especially on the security front, and we have agreed on steps needed to better utilize our geographical proximity and resources. Our relations, indeed, have truly become multi-faceted.
Excellency, over the years, India stands transformed as one of the leading economies of the world. Our rapid development has created exciting opportunities not only for our citizens, but also for co-operation and collaboration with neighbours like Myanmar. Our two countries are already collaborating on a range of developmental projects including the Kaladan Multi-modal Transport Project, various border road projects, the Tamanthi and Shwezaye hydropower projects, the heavy truck assembly plant in Magway, transmission lines project, to cite only a few. Our bilateral cooperation has been further enhanced in the fields of energy, power, agriculture, IT, railways, embracing both the public and private sectors.
Our co-operation in the human resource development in Myanmar is intense. The Myanmar-India Centre for English Language Training, the Myanmar-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre and the India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills have been established. These will, in time, become centres of excellence and enable the people of Myanmar to share in, and benefit from, India's developmental experience.
Myanmar's location makes it a natural bridge between the member countries of the ASEAN on the one hand and SAARC on the other. For us, Myanmar is our gateway to ASEAN and central to our 'Look East' policy. Myanmar is an active fellow member of BIMSTEC and an Observer in SAARC. Together, India and Myanmar can make important contributions to regional co-operation initiatives and help bring the countries of this region closer.
Excellency, you began your visit to India on the auspicious day of the Full Moon of Waso, by paying a visit to the holiest of Buddhist sites, Bodhgaya. It is, therefore, no surprise that our countries have agreed during your visit to take up the conservation of the most revered Buddhist temple in the historical city of Bagan - the Ananda Temple. This is an auspicious development.
Our discussions in Delhi have been fruitful and we have signed agreements and announced several new initiatives. I am confident that, just like your previous visit, this visit will prove to be a milestone in our ever expanding ties and bring our countries even closer.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, please join me in a toast to:-
- the good health and happiness of His Excellency Senior General Than Shwe and Madame Kyaing Kyaing;
- the ever growing friendship and co-operation between India and Myanmar; and
- the progress and prosperity of the people of Myanmar.