India on Monday announced it will provide a 500 million-dollar line of credit to Myanmar as the two countries signed agreements on a range of sectors, including air services, beginning a "new journey" of bilateral cooperation.
On the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Myanmar in quarter of a century, Manmohan Singh held "broad-ranging" discussions with Myanmar President Thein Sein on a road map for bilateral cooperation and said New Delhi was committed to Myanmar's economic development.
A Memorandum of Understanding for India's 500 million dollar credit line was signed between Export-Import Bank of India and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank. The line of credit was agreed upon in October last year when the Myanmar President had visited New Delhi.
The two countries also signed an air services agreement and an MoU on establishment of a joint trade and investment forum and setting up of border trade centres across the border of India and Myanmar.
The Prime Minister told Thein Sein that connectivity remains a major thrust area in India-Myanmar relations while capacity-building in Myanmar was a major priority for India's development assistance to this country. India pledged to double the training slots of Myanmarese personnel in India.
"We have embarked on a new journey of bilateral cooperation", Singh told Thein Sein, adding "we are committed to strengthening our economic and development partnership."
Singh told President Sein that India was ready to share with Myanmar its experience of Parliamentary democracy and "we wish you all success in your nation-building efforts and changes you are bringing about," according to MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.
The MoU relating to India-Myanmar Border Area Development envisages Indian assistance to set up schools, community areas and health centres across the border.
India has successfully tried this model of development in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and is going to replicate it for Myanmar, Indian officials said.
The agreement on border area development has important implications for security concerns of India as economic prosperity in those areas is expected to address the issue of insurgency.
Myanmar shares a 1640-km border with four northeastern Indian states -- Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh -- whose insurgents often take shelter across the border.
The agreement on much-talked about passenger bus service between Imphal and Mandalay, Myanmar's second larges city, could not be signed as Myanmar Cabinet is yet to clear it, sources said.
Among 12 agreements signed today are those between Calcutta University and Dagon University in Yangon on cooperation in research, an MoU on setting up Myanmar Institute of Information Technology, establishment of Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education in Nay Pyi Taw, setting up border 'haats' and a bio park in Nay Pyi Taw, on cooperation between Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses and Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS and between Indian Council of World Affairs and MISIS.
The signing of the agreements cap wide ranging and extensive talks between the Prime Minister and President Thein Sein on the second day of Singh's visit.