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PostPosted: 02 Dec 2011 20:52 
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Published on Dec 01, 2011
By Shyam Saran
The pivot of change in Asia: Indian Express

The efficacy of the latest US “pivot” towards the Asia-Pacific may well be determined by the political dynamics likely to be generated by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s two-day visit to Myanmar (Burma) on December 1 and 2. The visit is the first at this level in over half a century. Its significance should be assessed against the backdrop of recent developments in Myanmar and the region. Myanmar has leapt to the centre of the political and strategic radar screen in the Asia-Pacific over the past year as its new president, Thein Sein, has taken a series of unexpected measures. This has coincided with a push back against China’s more assertive posture in the region, which the US is exploiting.
The leader of the democratic opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest and restrictions on her movements and political activities of her National League of Democracy (NLD) have been removed. A regular political dialogue between the government and Suu Kyi has been instituted.

The way has now been cleared for the NLD to register as a political party and for Suu Kyi and other NLD candidates to take part in forthcoming by-elections to the National Assembly. Suu Kyi is likely to be a candidate herself. This will be a major step towards legitimising the new constitution, the National Assembly and the government.


Thein Sein has released over 200 political prisoners and has indicated that those remaining will also be released in stages.

The government has recognised the right to public protest, made labour unions and strikes a legitimate right of workers. Restrictions on access to the Internet have been relaxed and there is greater media freedom. The pace at which these changes have been coming has led even liberal elements to express the fear that there might be a backlash. It appears, however, that Thein Sein has the support of the upcoming and younger military leaders who wish to see a steady political and economic transformation of their country.

On the foreign policy side, the most dramatic development has been the suspension of a major project to construct a series of dams by China on the northern tributaries of the Irrawaddy and in the upper reaches of the main river itself. Preparatory work on the project had already commenced, though there were growing protests in the region, in particular, among the local Kachin tribes.

The Chinese reaction to the suspension was one of shocked surprise. This decision, more than anything else the new government has done, gives notice that the Chinese can no longer have the privileged and virtually unlimited access to Myanmar’s rich natural resources that they have enjoyed over the past 20 years. Myanmar appears determined to diversify its relations away from its inordinate dependence on China. It has been attempting to do so even when it was ruled directly by the generals. The difference lies in the military’s recognition that without political reform at home, more balanced foreign relations would not be possible. {So it seems the only reason why the military junta felt it necessary to institute democratic reforms was to escape the tight Chinese grip}

These measures have already brought a series of diplomatic gains. At its recently concluded summit in Bali, ASEAN announced that it had accepted Myanmar’s request to host the ASEAN Summit in 2014. {Myanmar is looking for wider recognition} This would be the first time since it joined ASEAN in 1997 that Myanmar hosts an ASEAN Summit. It accords the SPDC government the international legitimacy it has craved. Since the ASEAN Summit is also an occasion to hold parallel summits with partner countries, the assemblage of all the world’s key leaders in Naypidaw in 2014 would be an unprecedented event and would mark Myanmar’s return to the international community as a legitimate member.

The three-year run-up to the 2014 summit also provides Thein Sein with the political room he needs to continue and intensify reforms at home.

It was in the mid-1990s that India executed its own “pivot” towards Myanmar, recognising that the policy of isolating the military regime and extending rhetorical support to Suu Kyi only served to create space for China to extend and consolidate its pre-eminence in a strategically significant neighbour. Soon after I took up my assignment as India’s ambassador to Myanmar in 1997, it became obvious from my conversations with the country’s military leaders that they felt acutely uncomfortable with their enforced dependence upon China and wanted to create some wiggle room for the country. ASEAN countries recognised this, and in 1997, admitted Myanmar to their fold, despite considerable opposition from the US and other Western countries. Soon thereafter, our invitation to Myanmar to become part of BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation) sub-regional grouping was accepted with alacrity.

In our bilateral relations, we began to work on the basis of this changed perspective. The first major breakthrough came in 1999, when General Maung Aye, the then Myanmar army chief and vice-president, came to Shillong as the guest of our army chief, General V.P. Malik. But this was not the usual military-to -military visit. Maung Aye came with a delegation of several cabinet ministers heading various economic ministries. We had our own delegation consisting of eight cabinet ministers headed by the late R. Kumaramangalam, who was then the S&T minister. The bilateral talks held on the occasion led to a major upgradation of India-Myanmar relations, including an assurance from Maung Aye that the Myanmar army would act against several of the camps of Indian insurgent groups located across the border. We also agreed to pursue several important cross-border projects. This first somewhat tentative initiative was followed by a full normalisation of bilateral relations in 2000, when Maung Aye paid a visit to India as vice-president.

The policy of engaging Myanmar has paid off. India has gained a degree of cooperation in tackling Northeast insurgencies and established a modest countervailing presence to China in a sensitive neighbouring country. The rest of the world, particularly the US, has come to recognise the wisdom of India’s approach. The impending diversification of Myanmar’s foreign relations strengthens India’s hand because India, on its own, would have been unable to provide a credible alternative to China’s overarching presence in the country. Despite these significant developments, China will still remain Myanmar’s most important neighbour.

As the winds of political change sweep across Myanmar, India should diversify its own political engagement to include Suu Kyi and the NLD, as also the newly elected representatives in the National Assembly. It would also be worthwhile to engage with the representatives of the various ethnic groups who are in the National Assembly for the first time, some of whom reside in areas across our borders with Myanmar. Some of these ethnic groups, like the Kachins (who boycotted the elections), were earlier close to the Chinese but have now become fierce critics, thanks to the continuing ravage of their homeland by predatory, resource-hungry Chinese companies. We should reach out to them. The recent revival of the Advanced Landing Ground in Vijayanagar, Arunachal, near the Pangsau Pass is a step in the right direction. The region across the pass is inhabited by the Kachins.

The writer, a former foreign secretary, also served as India’s ambassador to Myanmar


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PostPosted: 02 Dec 2011 21:17 
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I believe Hillary Clinton's visit to Myanmar would go a very long way in consolidating India's ties to Myanmar, bringing the two countries closer, very much closer.

The reason for countries in the Indian Subcontinental Region (ISR) :) to feel aligned to China are either because
  1. There are rabidly anti-Indian constituencies there (Pakistan, to some extent Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka in that order)
  2. They are hoping for the Chinese veto in UNSC to save their sorry asses (Sri Lanka, Myanmar)
  3. They are attracted to Chinese largess in infrastructure building and trade of raw materials

It may take some time before India can neutralize Chinese veto power in UNSC. We are also moving to decrease anti-Indianism in our neighborhood where possible. As we grow we will be able to bind the other countries much more tightly to ourselves. In the mean time, India in combo with Japan can also hope to do something similar.

But the main change among the countries that can be brought about is if these countries do not have the Democles Sword of Western sanctions and UNSC resolutions hanging over them. That is true of both Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Whereas in Sri Lanka, we would have to negotiate peace between the Sinhalese and the Lankan Tamils so as to credibly blunt that Democles Sword, in Myanmar we have no constraints.

Myanmar have themselves undertaken important political reforms to do away with the threat of sanctions, ostracism, etc. As Myanmar loses its angst of the world, it would not need China any more. Myanmar is on its way to embrace both its past close civilization relations with India as well as warm relations with the West, especially its relations to the Anglophone world.

Myanmar is making a solid claim to being the bridge between India and ASEAN, thereby making it the pivot of Indo-ASEAN integration. The world is going to move in fast into Myanmar with diplomatic relations, political openness, strategic treaties, infrastructure building, and trade, making China just another player, and not the main player. The more Myanmar is welcomed back into the international community, the stronger would India's influence become in Myanmar viz-a-viz Chinese influence.

Geostrategically speaking, the turn around of Myanmar would be equivalent to Pakistan going Indic. It would open up a part of Asia that was semi-closed to India (overland) - namely Southeast Asia, and help in its integration with India. We should try to look for close alliances with Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.


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PostPosted: 13 Dec 2011 22:21 
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India can prise open junta’s iron fist ---- Shashi Tharoor


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2012 07:32 
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Myanmar in everyone's spotlight

Quote:
As big as France and Britain combined, Myanmar and its 60 million people sit at the crossroads between China, India and Southeast Asia, with ports on the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea, making it a vital energy security asset for Beijing's landlocked western provinces and a priority for Washington as President Barack Obama strengthens engagement with Asia. "Those who were not likely to look at Myanmar as a business destination are now beginning to study business opportunities there," said D.K. Sarraf, managing director of ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of India's state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. "As far as our interest is concerned, it would depend on how soon sanctions are lifted."

Recent overtures by Myanmar's new civilian government include calls for peace with ethnic minority groups, some tolerance of criticism, an easing in media controls and more communication with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released last year from 15 years of house arrest. While many Western multinationals remain publicly cautious about the investment prospects of a country entangled in U.S. and European sanctions following years of human rights abuses, Asian firms hope to fill the void.

"Economic interest in Myanmar is growing greatly. We plan to move forward with talks, especially on infrastructure development, with various economic committees," Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Nippon Keidanren, Japan's biggest business lobby, told Reuters. Japanese small- and mid-sized firms, especially in textiles and fisheries, want to set up production bases in Myanmar.

Don Lam, CEO of VinaCapital, Vietnam's largest asset manager, for example, sees opportunities in Myanmar's consumer goods and agriculture industries, but he also sees risks, saying Myanmar is at a similar stage of development as Vietnam in 1994, when the United States lifted sanctions against Hanoi. "The challenge is similar to Vietnam in the early days, which is the evolution of legal structures," he said. "Once those clear up, major investors, institutional investors, will be more confident investing in Myanmar. At the moment, it's sort of in limbo."

One early mover in the agricultural sector is Escorts Ltd , a $135 million Indian farm machinery maker. "Farming conditions are similar to India, and we ... have found ways to appoint a distributor/dealer," said Nikhil Nanda, joint managing director. "In terms of business, it's currently very small, but in terms of the future, Myanmar is a market that can have a decent demand prospect for us."


India's Tata Motors keen to expand operations in Myanmar


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2012 09:59 
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http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-paci ... 00580.html
Asia-Pacific
Myanmar to set 651 political prisoners free
Prison officials say the amnesty to include former student activists and a prominent monk.
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2012 03:01
"Myanmar's government is due to free around 651 prisoners, including political detainees, on Friday in a move to further reform the country.
Among those to be released are prominent Buddhist monk Shin Gambira and a group of former student activists who were jailed as a result of an uprising in 1988, according to prison officials speaking to the Reuters news agency.
An official from Taunggyi Prison in Shan State said two prominent dissidents, Ko Jimmy and Ko Zaw Thet Htwe, would be released.
"We are going to take them to the bus terminal later this morning," the official said.
Phyo Min Thein, brother-in-law of Htay Kywe, one of the leaders of an acitivist group known as the "88 Generation Students Group", said: "I've got confirmation that Ko Htay Kywe and almost all members of the 88 Group and other prominent figures like Shin Gambira and U Khun Tun Oo will be released today."
Activists said they expected more political prisoners to be among those freed in Friday's amnesty, a step that could help pave the way for the lifting of economic sanctions by the European Union and soon thereafter by the United States......"
Gautam


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2012 10:06 
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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/world ... &ref=world
Burmese Government and Ethnic Rebel Group Sign Cease-Fire
By SETH MYDANS
Published: January 12, 2012
"BANGKOK — The government of Myanmar signed a cease-fire agreement on Thursday with ethnic Karen rebels, whose fight for greater autonomy is one of the largest of the brutal civil wars that has bedeviled the country since it gained independence from Britain more than six decades ago.
“A cease-fire agreement has been signed,” U Aung Min, a government negotiator, told reporters in the Karen capital, Pa-an.
The pact is another major step by the new civilian government as it races to open the door to improved relations with the outside world.
Since its installation in March, ending nearly 50 years of military rule, the government has held talks with the political opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, approved the registration of her political party and her candidacy in a by-election in April, and suspended plans for a huge Chinese-backed dam that drew strong opposition both from within and outside Myanmar, formerly Burma.
The deputy leader of the Karen National Union delegation, Saw David Htaw, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the appearance of political reforms added to his confidence that the government would hold to its agreement........"
Gautam


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2012 02:39 
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Rajesh: "Geostrategically speaking, the turn around of Myanmar would be equivalent to Pakistan going Indic. It would open up a part of Asia that was semi-closed to India (overland) - namely Southeast Asia, and help in its integration with India. We should try to look for close alliances with Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand."

During the last 50 years or so, you can detect a mainstream Western attempt to culturally and psychologically distance this region from India, despite the major Indian historical influence on these lands. Economics and geo-politics were the main reasons of course. They were more open to, and compliant with, Anglo-American and European economic and geo-political imperatives. But a secondary motive must have been to downgrade or downplay Indian cultural influence which was largely peaceful and benign. That way India is prevented from thinking of itself as something major, even potentially. But Indians are sharp enough to see through this tactic. There were some honourable academics like Groselier and Rawson who acknowledged the big impact of India on SE Asia.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2012 10:15 
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U.S. Restores Full Ties to Myanmar After Rapid Reforms
Quote:
WASHINGTON — The United States moved to restore full diplomatic relations with Myanmar on Friday, rewarding the sweeping political and economic changes that the country’s new civilian government has made, including a cease-fire with ethnic rebels and, only hours before, the release of hundreds of political prisoners.


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PostPosted: 21 Jan 2012 05:08 
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http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-paci ... 01975.html
Myanmar's Suu Kyi registers for April vote
Nobel Peace Prize winner submits application to stand as Yangon candidate in parliamentary by-elections.
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2012 08:34
"Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi launched her historic bid for a seat in parliament Wednesday in the latest sign of change in the country after the end of decades of outright military rule.
Throngs of flag-waving supporters crowded the local election office on Wednesday to shout support and catch a glimpse of the 66-year-old Nobel Peace laureate, who became Myanmar's most recognizable face during years of house arrest under authoritarian rule.
The scene would have been unthinkable while the country was still under military rule. Suu Kyi was despised by the junta because of her popularity and any public support for her was swiftly and firmly halted.
The freedom allowed to Suu Kyi's supporters is another sign that the country's newly elected but military-backed government is following through on promises for democratic reforms, a key condition of the West before lifting sanctions......"
Gautam


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PostPosted: 22 Jan 2012 22:10 
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http://www.economist.com/node/21543221
"Change in Myanmar
Follow my lead
The government moves, and gets its rewards
Jan 21st 2012 | SINGAPORE | from the print edition
A LULL in Myanmar followed the excitement of secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s historic visit to the country in early December, the first by a senior American official in half a century. Perhaps, some even wondered, this was the point at which the reform process initiated by Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, might come unstuck. Yet from the evidence of the past week, things are on track.
On January 13th the government undertook the biggest yet in a series of releases of political prisoners: 302 according to the authorities, 287 according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a monitoring group in Thailand. Either way, it was a sizeable number and included many of the democratic opposition’s most prominent figures. Some had spent two decades in jail for their part in the first student uprisings against the military government in 1988. Several, including Nilar Thein, Min Ko Naing and Htay Kywe, were leaders of the “88 Generation movement”. But student revolutionaries were not the only people set free. One surprise was the release from house arrest of Khin Nyunt, the former military junta’s intelligence chief, and prime minister until he was ousted in 2004. All in all, the government’s intentions to move from a military dictatorship to greater pluralism appear sincere.
The release of political prisoners has always been a foremost condition set by the United States before considering restoring full diplomatic relations. These were downgraded in 1988 and then all but broken off in the early 1990s as punishment for the government’s brutal crackdowns on the democratic opposition. America has for some months pledged that releases of political prisoners will be rewarded by carefully calibrated measures to end Myanmar’s isolation, something the government appears to crave. Sure enough, right after the prisoner release, America duly announced it had restored full diplomatic ties. It was, a senior American diplomat says, “a concrete response to a concrete sign of reform on the Burmese side.”Other countries have been moving too. On January 14th Norway announced that it would end its policy of discouraging investment in Myanmar. Australia is lifting financial and travel restrictions on certain Burmese citizens. More significantly still, France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppé, said that the European Union will respond “positively” to the latest developments. The EU is currently reviewing its sanctions against Myanmar and seems likely to relax them over the next few months......."
Gautam


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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2012 21:18 
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The master plan for Myanmar
Quote:
The reforms in Myanmar praised by Western diplomats were made public in 2003 as the "Roadmap to Discipline-Flourishing Democracy". In private, a "master plan" set out how the military would deal with the United States, break away from China's grasp, and keep the generals in power. From ceasefires to the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the regime planned exactly which buttons to press to get the West onside. - Bertil Lintner

Quote:
The master plan is acutely aware of the problems that must be addressed before Myanmar can lessen its reliance on China and become a trusted partner with the West. The main issue at the time of writing was the detention of pro-democracy icon Suu Kyi, who Aung Kyaw Hla wrote was a key "focal point": "Whenever she is under detention pressure increases, but when she is not, there is less pressure." While the report implies Suu Kyi's release would improve ties with the West, the plan's ultimate aim - which it spells out clearly - is to "crush" the opposition.

At the same time, the dossier identifies individuals, mostly Western academics, known for their opposition to the West's sanctions policy, and somewhat curiously suggests that "friendly" Indian diplomats could be helpful in providing background information about influential US congressmen.

The dossier concludes that the regime cannot compete with the media and non-governmental organizations run by Myanmar exiles, but if US politicians and lawmakers were invited to visit the country they could help to sway international opinion in the regime's favor. Over the years, many Americans have visited Myanmar and often left less critical of the regime than they were previously. In the end, it seems that Myanmar has successfully managed to engage the US rather than vice versa.


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PostPosted: 25 Feb 2012 05:18 
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CIA CHIEF Petraeus was in Bangkok andthen went to Myanmar - intel cooperation kick started - focus is North Korea.


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PostPosted: 13 Mar 2012 07:12 
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Myanmar is Becoming Burma

Quote:
Myanmar seems to be returning to Burma. The good news has trickled in after talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and the new civilian president, Thein Sein, established a framework for national reconciliation and graduated democratic reform.

A political amnesty is on the anvil and moves are afoot to liberalise trade and investment regimes. The new government has invited Burmese refugees who fled the country after the military takeover to return and assist the process of national reconstruction.

Perhaps even more significantly, work on the US$ 3.6 billion, 6,000-megawatt Myitsone dam on the upper Irrawaddy River, under construction with Chinese assistance, has been suspended as being “against the will of the (Kachin) people).” The decision was announced in parliament and suggests that the Burmese leadership is not going to kow-tow to its giant neighbour which has established a major presence in the country during the past 22 years of isolation and Western sanctions, which started after 2003. This does not bring Chinese collaboration to an end by any means as numerous other large hydroelectric, hydrocarbon, port and other infrastructure projects are moving forward.

It does, however, suggest that the new regime is mindful of ethnic minority and ecological sensitivities. After years of cease-fires based on a policy of live and let live, the regime sought to integrate ethnic nationality armies into the Myanmar armed forces on the eve of the last elections by declaring them national border guards under the command of the Tatmadaw. Most refused, and four insurgencies have resumed in consequence. Aung San Suu Kyi has appealed for restraint, a further cease-fire and peace talks, to which the regime has not been entirely unresponsive.

This too marks a potentially significant development as its resolution will determine whether Burma is to be a truly federal state, with ethnic nationalities enjoying considerable autonomy, or remain a largely centralised polity at war with itself. Suu Kyi’s father General Aung San, the Father of the Nation and first prime minister, had negotiated the Panglong agreement with the minorities in 1948. The one issue on which it broke was on the interpretation of whether the option to review federal ties after a decade implied a choice of independence or only a re-jigging of the federal arrangement. It was on the identical issue in regard to the 9-Point Hydari agreement that the Naga leader, Phizo, broke with the Indian State.

The Thein Sein government is seeking foreign investment and collaboration in every field. It is a country with enormous land and natural resources (minerals, bio-diversity, hydro power and hydrocarbons) but currently lacking in human capital - administrative, entrepreneurial, institutional, scientific expertise – after decades years of military rule. It is because of this that it has farmed out major development projects, including plantations, to China, its Asean neighbours, Japan, India and others. Only a small fraction of its 40,000-meawatt hydro potential has been harnessed though almost 14,000 megawatts worth of projects have been signed up (especially with China on the Irrawaddy). With little domestic demand as yet, most of this power will be exported to China, Thailand and the Asean grid, and to adjacent Nagaland if the 1,200-megawatt Tamanthi project, part of the Chindwin cascade, comes to fruition with Indian assistance.

India’s major project so far has been the Kalewa/Kalemayo-Tamu (Moreh) highway (along which projected Indo-Burma-Asean trade has been stymied for lack of trade facilitation measures on the Indian side). An even larger project under implementation is the multi-modal Southern Mizoram-Kaladan River-Sitwe Port corridor whicb will provide India’s Northeast an ocean outlet. The Kaladan Corridor may, alas, go the way of the Kalewa-Tamu Road unless concurrent steps are taken here and now by both governments and all concerned actors – transporters, entrepreneurs, bankers, freight forwarders, hoteliers, and others – get their act together.

Around 1998, Burma had offered extensive wastelands to India to grow rice, pulses and palm oil on renewable 30-year leases. Thailand and Malaysia signed up. India was unresponsive. Whether such leases will again be on offer and will be acceptable to the ethnic minorities is uncertain. However, it is something that could be explored on the basis of cooperative partnerships with local ethnic groups, the Burma government and the Indian state or private entrepreneurs as a means of coupling ethic settlements in Burma with income and employment generation and the development of much-needed infrastructure.

Hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, onshore and offshore, is another area that holds out considerable promise.

Burma has had a long and close association with India and has applied for Saarc membership, which Delhi supports. The country is also a member of Asean of which it hopes to become rotational chair in 2014. It is in transition and holds a geo-strategic position of high importance as a bridge between Saarc, Asean and China.

Rather than be a passive spectator or late actor, India should move energetically to engage the new Thein Sein administration to assist and encourage its transition to full democracy, ethnic reconciliation and economic and social reconstruction at all levels, governmental and non-official.

Aung San Suu Kyi studied in Delhi and is greatly revered here and has high regard for this country. India’s relations with the military regime have also been maintained at an even keel and the military leadership too trusts India as a non-intrusive neighbour and long-term friend.

Why shouldn’t the government and credible civil society institutions invite delegations of Burmese parliamentarians, trade representatives, ethnic nationality groups and security analysts to visit India and talk to their counterparts and potential collaborators here? Scholarships and seats in training institutions should be readily on offer as this is perhaps Burma’s greatest need. Charter flights should be organised both ways to promote tourism and understanding. And high level Indian political and trade and investment delegations should visit Burma as early as possible.

The Indo-Afghan strategic partnership agreement signed last week on the occasion of President Karzai’s visit to Delhi need not be a model but could point a direction. Afghanistan is in flux. America’s AfPak policy has failed and it is now locked in a huge muddle and spat with a defiant but bewildered Pakistan that knows it needs to redefine itself. This again presents India with an opening and an opportunity to further its engagement with Islamabad as much as with Kabul and jointly with both. Pakistan’s concerns about winning strategic depth in Afghanistan against India are unreal in concept and substance. India is no threat to Pakistan which is its own worst enemy.


– BG Verghese has been with the Centre for Policy Research in India since 1986. He started his career in journalism with the Times of India and was later editor of the Hindustan Times (1969-75) and Indian Express (1982-86).


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 19:45 
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Burma poll: Aung San Suu Kyi hopes for 'new era'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17581054

Calling the polls a "triumph of the people", she said the goal now was reconciliation with other parties.

Partial official results suggest that Ms Suu Kyi's party took at least 40 of the 45 seats being contested, state media say.

Although the vote is seen as a key test of political reform, the army and its allies still dominate the parliament.

The by-elections were being held to fill 45 parliamentary seats left vacant by the appointment of ministers after the polls that formally ended military rule in November 2010. There are 664 seats in parliament altogether.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) was competing in its first elections since 1990, after boycotting the 2010 polls. It was one of 17 opposition parties that took part.

'Triumph of people'
Ms Suu Kyi's comments came as she addressed a crowd of supporters outside NLD headquarters in Rangoon, Burma's commercial capital.

"It is not so much our triumph as a triumph of the people who have decided that they have to be involved in the political process in this country," she said. "We hope this is the beginning of a new era."
---
A step in the right direction. Can India now build some bridges with her.


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 20:33 
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India doesn't need war criminal Hillary C to engage with Burma! We've had relations with Burma long before the very thought of the US of A entered the minds of the founding fathers.In fact,I've often thought that US diplomacy resembles that of the Khmer Rouge and Brother No.1,Pol Pot .History began when the US of A gained independence,the year "zero" (most apt,pun intended!).


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 20:58 
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but sir but if GOI keeps on taking decisive actions like it has been taking lately, the 'war criminals' as you say it will get more leverage in Burma.

Any movement against the junta is a good thing, IMO.


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 22:32 
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NightWatch

For the night of 1 April 2012


Quote:
Burma: Myanmar dissident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won a parliamentary seat in by-elections today, a member of her party said, in a closely watched poll.


Comment: After two decades of imprisonment or house arrest for so-called political crimes, Suu Kyi is again a member of parliament. This is tonight's good news.


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PostPosted: 03 Apr 2012 03:38 
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I don't think that "regime change" as hoped for by the western interlopers is what Suu Kyi has in mind.Change in Burma has to come about step by step and I think that she has made a deal with the junta on this,which is why she's been allowed to win a thumping victory without interference or obstruction.Now that she is the clear established leader of the people,her methods of bringing about change without conflict need to be seen.The west will push for the speedy removal of the junta in exchange for economic promises.Burma must be left for the Burmese to bring about change and not a pseudo-democratic "regime change" strategy which we are seeing being played out all over the Middle East.Burma's close ties with China and NoKo are what the US/West wants to sever.

India must remain engaged with both sides of the Burmese power structure,and support genuine Burmese initiatives to establish change without conflict,preventing western attempts at re-colonising Burma through economic manipulation.


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PostPosted: 20 Apr 2012 12:00 
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U.S. Eases Some Myanmar Sanctions on Financial Transactions

So the process of west pulling burma towards them has been gathering pace.


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PostPosted: 20 Apr 2012 13:19 
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I think it is time for India to fast track its proposal for building rail and road connectivity between Myanmar and India and also fund it fully.


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PostPosted: 20 Apr 2012 15:22 
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^^^ Some work is going on. Hopefully it will see action on ground as well.
http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?p=1263478#p1263478
Quote:
The railways initially needs about Rs 3,000 crore to start the project linking about 97 km new rail connection between Jiribam and Tupul (Manipur) in the first phase. As per the approved plan, the Indian Railways will build about 350 km new route between India and Myanmar


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PostPosted: 24 Apr 2012 00:02 
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Dragon and Lady
Quote:
Jayanth Jacob and Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
April 20, 2012
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First Published: 23:56 IST(20/4/2012)
Last Updated: 02:42 IST(21/4/2012)
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THen New Delhi always found it hard to walk the divide between democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling military junta. The PV Narasimha Rao government decided it had to withdraw support for Suu Kyi because it needed Myanmarese military help to bring Naga rebels to heel. When in 1992
India gave Suu Kyi the Nehru award, the junta promptly called off ongoing joint military exercises against Nagas.

But in the mid-1990s a different narrative intruded. The generals asked India to remain engaged with their regime because they needed a balance against the growing Chinese presence north of the Irrawaddy river. The junta played it both ways, of course. And their dependence on Beijing for arms and money became overwhelming

NOW Like much of the world, India was surprised by the radical reformist vision of the new president, General Thien Sien. Based on what New Delhi has learnt from its interactions with various Myanmarese leaders, the army is comfortable with Suu Kyi but is more concerned about the northern ethnic insurgencies. Image

India is a benign force in Myanmar’s view. Too benign, says Suu Kyi. This makes New Delhi a useful third party, given the suspicions that exist among the Myanmarese regarding the role of China and the suspicions China has about the West.

WHY Theories abound as to why Thien Sien took this path. Former Malaysian leader, Mohammad Mahathir, after meeting him, concluded “he had always been reform minded”. His father, a devout Buddhist, also helped. But Thien Sien has support from others in the army who are worried, perhaps most of all, at the Chinese footprint in the north. Some argue the Arab spring made a difference.

The unknown factor in all of this is Beijing. About half-a-dozen of the ethnic insurgents are in China’s pocket. China is less than enthusiastic about democracy. However, its main fear is that a democratic Myanmar will become a pro-US Myanmar. Beijing’s blessings for the present process are at best conditional. Something Thien Sien is well aware of.

NEXT The reforms are scarred by several divides, any one of which could trip up the entire process. One, though arguably the shallowest, is between Suu Kyi and the military. The other is between reformists and hardliners in the army. The latter have become more concerned since the last bye-elections when the military’s party won only one out of 43 seats. These party members are coalescing into the main anti-reformist noises. There’s another which puts the ethnic groups on one side and the ethnically Burmese Suu Kyi and the generals on the other. The latter need to persuade the former to join them or the game is up.

India does not have close links with any of these players. What it hopes to do is open up a “western front” with Myanmar to reduce the country’s dependence on China. When PM Manmohan Singh visits in May, he will unveil a border region development plan. He will also seek to institutionalise security ties with army and police. At least this time, India can play its democracy card often and hard. “Nobody can help them build the institutions of democracy better than us,” says a senior Indian official.


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PostPosted: 28 Apr 2012 05:04 
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Taken from a diplomatic cable from US embassy in rangoon to washington detailing china-burmese relations

Quote:
Oil and Gas
-----------
¶6. (C) China's oil and gas presence in Burma also appears on the rise. Nicolas Terraz, General Manager for TOTAL E&P Myanmar Yangon Branch, notes a significant increase in China's offshore oil and gas presence in the last several years, now constituting 30 to 40 percent of the total Burmese exploration work. According to Terraz, the Chinese firms utilize the latest technology and methods, and they are reclusive and do not interact with the other oil and gas firm employees operating in country. In Burma's opaque environment, it's difficult to determine whether Chinese firms secure exploration rights on competitive grounds, or the degree to which political favoritism and corruption play a role. Many presume politics and personal interest inevitably play a role in the GOB's selection process, however. In one case dating back to 2008, executives from Korean-owned Daewoo privately informed Post that the GOB pressured it to finalize a contract with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), even though CNPC's gas price was lower than Daewoo wanted and what India offered to pay for the natural gas (Ref E).
¶7. (C) China's highest profile energy project in Burma is the planned construction of dual pipelines to transmit oil and gas from the Bay of Bengal to China's Yunnan Province. One of the pipelines will transmit natural gas drilled offshore in Burmese waters, while the other will deliver oil
offloaded from tankers (e.g. from the Middle East). Discussions of the project -- reportedly costing over USD 2 billion USD -- are believed to have figured prominently in PRC Vice President Xi Jinping's December 2009 visit to Burma. From Beijing's perspective, the project has the benefits of bringing energy directly into landlocked and underdeveloped Yunnan Province and avoiding the current oil transport route through the Strait of Malacca, which poses a potential choke point. Although there have been delays -- one rumor is that local Burmese military commanders insist that they dictate the pipeline's route through their territory, ostensibly to profit by having the pipeline transit land they own -- construction reportedly has broken ground.


Source: http://cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id ... na%20india


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PostPosted: 05 May 2012 17:51 
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India-Myanmar transport project hits roadblock
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Sandeep Dikshit
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Government departments working at cross purposes

A few weeks ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's maiden visit to Myanmar, India's showpiece joint venture that will provide an alternative route to the northeastern States is in trouble.

Finalised after years of tough negotiations, during which the then External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, ensured a breakthrough, the Kaladan multimodal transport project — which has already suffered cost overruns and delays — has landed in fresh problems because government departments have been working at cross purposes.

The project has been hailed as strategically significant because it will take the pressure off the sole route connecting the Indian mainland with the northeast via the Siliguri corridor. It was conceived at a time when New Delhi's ties with Dhaka were frosty and its signing in 2008 was stated to convey a strong message to Bangladesh that its withholding transit would not mean India did not have an alternative.

But now the Kaladan project is facing problems such as underestimation of the road length in Myanmar. Added to that South Block has come up against a bigger roadblock because the Power Ministry did not share with it information about plans to construct hydro-electric projects — Chhimtuipui and Lungleng — on two tributaries of the Kaladan river followed by another project downstream. That the first two projects are being built by one public sector undertaking and the third is being constructed by another PSU has also led to coordination issues.

The projects are located on the tributaries of the Kaladan on the international boundary between the two countries and involve some submergence within Myanmar territory. The Power Ministry has now asked the External Affairs Ministry to take up the issue with Myanmar.

This request not only displeased South Block but also led it to enquire about the impact of these projects on the Kaladan multimodal transport project. The External Affairs Ministry was informed that these two projects were conceived under the Prime Minister's Hydro Power Initiative and that there was a third project as well — Kolodyne-II, downstream.

Cleared late last year, Kolodyne-II must release about 80 cumecs (cubic metre per second) in the river to maintain the necessary depth of water for movement of ships in downstream reaches since navigation is an integral part of the Kaladan project.

While the Chhimtuipui and Lungleng projects have been planned as storage schemes, water release would not impact the Kaladan project. However, in case Kolodyne-II does not come up, necessary releases for navigation may have to be ensured from theChhimtuipui and Lungleng projects.

And if that is not possible, more work will be in the offing — a barrage would be required based on the discharge for navigation to ensure peaking operation of these projects.

This means that unless corrective measures are taken immediately and additional funds released, the Kaladan project may suffer another setback.

Power Ministry didn't share information on plans for hydel projects on Kaladan river

Lack of coordination as projects are being built by two PSUs


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PostPosted: 05 May 2012 18:47 
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^^^
Its outright hilarious that kaladan multi modal project which was started during NDA govt(10 years back) was not at all thought of when the power projects were conceived. This looks like a self inflicted hunza type disaster where-in the artificial dam blocked the strategic karakoram highway.


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PostPosted: 07 May 2012 23:51 
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My relatives just sent me the most shocking pictures. Apparently, 800-900 Burmese/Myanmarese Muslims have 'fled' Burma and pitched tents outside NHRC office in A block Vasant Vihar (New Delhi). They are going #2 and bathing on the streets.

From the "Rohingya" Muslim Community. Border Bangladesh, an Islamic Republic, but have come to India after getting Asylum. Now seeking Refugee status.

Secular NGOs are distributing food and drinking water.

Kya hoga is Desh Ka?


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PostPosted: 07 May 2012 23:58 
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^^ Emerging communities here in the US too of Burmese Moslem refugees. Looks like they're fleeing Burma for some reason.


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PostPosted: 08 May 2012 12:01 
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I have met Burmese Karen community who are mostly christian. Maybe they have been trapped by the So Baptists


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PostPosted: 08 May 2012 12:09 
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in terms of thumb rule all this shipping and barge based business tends to work in humming business hubs like pearl river or from rotterdam into germany. else its just a means to extract ore and ship it out like happens in goa 24x7 with the ore going to korean and japanese steel mills.

they should focus on a good 4 lane road network connecting a port in myanmar with tripura, nagaland, manipur and mizoram with soft loans to myanmar if needed. the terrain is not that bad...north myanmar is a rain shadow arid zone and the british indian army carried out long moves and attacks along mutiple axis there in ww2...only near the border it was tough.

for decades of precious slogan shouting our inland water transport board has done precious little. the ganga and brahmaputra are not significant arteries of trade even within states. road and rail are far cheaper and quicker for businesses.


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PostPosted: 16 May 2012 12:48 
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Myanmar opens for business, India Inc treads cautiously
Quote:
In 2010-11 alone, it soared to $20 billion from a much smaller $300 million during the previous year. Over 70 per cent of total FDI inflows came from Chinese companies

Quote:
India, on the other hand, is only the 13th largest investor, with an investment of around $189 million in five projects. :( :( (With china already entrenched firmly, also burma opening to west means there is little time left for india inc )

Quote:
Shyamal Banerjee, director at Lookeast Business Consultants, which helps Indian investors enter Myanmar, thinks Indian firms are being “over cautious”.

“Indian companies need to show to Myanmar’s authorities that they are interested in making long-term investments, but they also need more support from the Indian government. Chinese companies are being able to do so well because they obtain the tacit government support. Indian firms don’t do this, and instead expect a red carpet welcome,” he says. “When in Rome, do as Romans do.”


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PostPosted: 18 May 2012 10:56 
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[ur=http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/17/11747555-obama-names-first-us-ambassador-to-myanmar-in-22-years?litel]US names ambassador to Myanmar in 22 years[/url]


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PostPosted: 26 May 2012 02:45 
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Quote:
Rohingya Muslims pushing into India, want refugee status; already in the US

Posted by acorcoran on May 19, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that US federal refugee contractors and lobbyists are pushing for more Rohingya Muslim refugee resettlement into the US. Here both the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Refugee Council USA (the lobbying arm of the refugee industry) asked for more Rohingya at the May 1 US State Department meeting.

You know the Rohingya drumbeat has begun in earnest when the New York Times trumpets their plight in a feature story, here. You need to read about how Rohingya are arriving in New Delhi by the thousands and are squatting on “community land” described as Muslim land?

By the way, note that the New York Times reporter wrote 25 paragraphs before getting to the issue of the Rohingya’s “religion” and thus why the heightened concern about their influx. Remember Mumbai.

Asad Ghazi Ansari, the president of the nongovernmental organization Nawa-e-Haque, which has been helping the Rohingyas with food and medicine, said that most of the Rohingyas returned from where the police had left them.

On Wednesday, about 500 of them had assembled in Batla House, in the Okhla neighborhood in south Delhi, on what Mr. Ansari called “community land,” which meant that the land belonged to members of the Muslim community.

He said that his organization is making arrangements to get the other Rohingya together and set up another makeshift camp for them at Batla House.

Meanwhile, the Indian Parliament discussed the growing problem (and much to my surprise India has never signed the UN Convention on Refugees). Here is the nub of the argument and I am sure it is one our very own US Conference of Catholic Bishops uses—it isn’t fair if we resettle Christians (as in the Burmese Karen people we have been resettling by the tens of thousands) if we don’t also give fair treatment to Muslims. Here the USCCB and the Communist Party of India are on the same page!

Another member of Parliament, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), told the home minister: “If people from other religions have been allowed and Muslims have been denied, then it is very unfair.”

For new readers, I have been writing about Rohingya since January 2008. We now have over 100 posts in our Rohingya Reports category. Be sure to see the one about resettling Rohingya in New Hampshire! The United States did not resettle Rohingya until the last few years because there was adequate proof that certain Islamic terror groups had infiltrated Rohingya camps. However, it is important that you see this post I wrote in 2010 where we learned that American Muslim advocacy groups are also pushing that Rohingya be resettled. They are already also being resettled throughout Europe and Canada.

We learned from Dan Kosten of the Refugee Council USA on May 1 that Bangladesh is holding up the processing of Rohingya out of Bangladesh, so I will bet you a buck Islamists and refugee advocates are pushing Rohingya into India. Watch for it! We will soon be bringing Rohingya directly from India (a safe country if they are true refugees!) just as we are now doing with Malta—-we are taking illegal alien problems off the hands of some countries that need to deal with their economic migrant problems themselves!

http://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpre ... in-the-us/

More poisonous vipers, gov't doesn't give a sh*t about KP's who are citizens but is allowing these foot soldiers of Muhammad in like they own the country.


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PostPosted: 27 May 2012 12:13 
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PM in Myanmar for boosting bilateral ties; will also meet Suu Kyi

Quote:
...

Manmohan Singh will become the first Indian prime minister in 25 years to visit Myanmar on an official trip to boost trade and connectivity with the gateway to Southeast Asia.
...


India, Myanmar to explore new initiatives to boost ties: Manmohan


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PostPosted: 28 May 2012 07:14 
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India PM seeks to heal bad blood on Myanmar visit
http://news.yahoo.com/india-pm-seeks-he ... iness.html
Quote:
SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) - In northwest Myanmar, where the Kaladan River flows out into the Bay of Bengal, the two giant arms of a half-built wharf enfold the estuarine mud with steel and concrete.Their embrace is fraternal - Myanmar's giant neighbor India is funding the new port in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State - but also strategic.The port is part of a $214-million river and road network that will carve a trade route into India's landlocked northeast and underscore New Delhi's determination to capitalise on Myanmar's growing importance at Asia's crossroads.anmohan Singh will seek to bolster ties this week during the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Myanmar in 25 years. His official agenda includes road, rail, waterways and air links, says India's foreign ministry.Unofficially, he must also overcome a history of bad blood with Myanmar, where Indian investments are already dwarfed by regional rival China.The visit follows a year of dramatic reforms in which Myanmar has pulled back from China's powerful economic and political orbit and won a suspension of U.S. and European sanctions. With change has come a series of high profile visits, including stops by the leaders of Britain and South Korea, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.President Thein Sein's government has held peace talks with ethnic minority rebels, relaxed strict media censorship, allowed trade unions and protests and held a by-election dominated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party.As Myanmar emerges from decades of isolation, trade with its neighbour is already swelling. Myanmar's government expects two-way trade with India to nearly double in two years to $2 billion, from $1.4 billion in the year to March 30, a figure that was nearly 30 percent higher from the previous year, according to Myanmar's Ministry of Commerce."Stronger trade and investment links, development of border areas, improving connectivity between our two countries and building capacity and human resources are areas that I hope to focus on during my visit," Singh said in a statement released before his arrival in the capital Naypyitaw on Sunday evening.India should be a natural partner, with ties stretching back to the ancient Buddhist emperor Ashoka and, more recently, a shared experience of British colonialism and World War Two.


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PostPosted: 28 May 2012 10:31 
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India, Myanmar should work out strategy to tackle terror: PM

In Myanmar, Manmohan to focus on trade

NHPC submits DPRs for 2 Myanmar projects


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PostPosted: 29 May 2012 01:01 
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... lenews_wsj
India Tries to Play Catch-Up in Myanmar; Signs 12 Deals .
Quote:
NEW DELHI – India is jostling for space in energy-rich Myanmar, signing as many as 12 bilateral agreements Monday in an effort to play catch-up with well-entrenched rival China. The agreements -- signed by a delegation led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- covered areas as diverse as air services and agriculture, but one of the key developments was India-based Jubilant Energy getting a 77.5% interest in an onshore block. Mr. Singh's three-day visit underscores India's "Look East" policy to deepen ties with countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia, including South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, as well as continue its search for oil and gas supplies to fuel its growing economy. Myanmar could turn out to be a key source of energy for India, which has to import more than three-quarters of its crude-oil needs. New Delhi has been under U.S. pressure of late to cut its dependence on Iran, and it is looking for alternate sources to bolster its energy security. India's Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said Friday that New Delhi will be "emphasizing and flagging our interest in our companies getting more opportunities in Myanmar," both onshore and offshore. India and Myanmar aim to double their annual trade by 2015 from the current $1.2 billion, which is currently heavily in favor of Myanmar with India's imports totaling $900 million each year.
Chinese companies have been in Myanmar for several years now in an effort to tap energy resources. Others have come to the party as well: South Korea's Daewoo International Corp. is spending $1.7 billion to develop a natural gas field in Myanmar, but this supply, too, will be sold to China.
r. Singh's visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years, follows Myanmar President U. Thein Sein's tour of New Delhi last October. t comes in the midst of a rush of world leaders to Myanmar after the country implemented several political reforms. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited recently, as did U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Myanmar was considered an exile state following decades of military rule, but elections in 2010 and the recent electoral win of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has helped fast-track the restoration of its ties with the international community. Mr. Singh's schedule includes a visit to Yangon to meet Ms. Suu Kyi, who was kept under house arrest for most of the past two decades. India and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, share a land border of more than 1,600 kilometers and a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

The two countries share long historical links as well: India's last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, is buried in Yangon, while the encyclopedia Britannica of the early 1900s listed Myanmar as an Indian province. The agreements signed Monday include an initial pact between the Export-Import Bank of India and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank for extending a $500 million credit line. Another agreement was signed to establish a rice biotechnology park at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, to improve the food and income security of small farmers. Another pact will seek to promote development in border areas, such as providing funding to open border bazaars to promote trade along the Indo-Myanmar border. The air service agreement will give Indian carriers fifth freedom rights, allowing them to combine Myanmar with flights to other destinations in Southeast Asia. A joint working group will also be set up to enhance rail connectivity and examine the feasibility of movement of freight from India to Southeast Asia, a move that has the potential to give a fillip to trade and investment in the region. India and Myanmar agreed also to repair and upgrade a road linking Moreh in India's northeastern state of Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar by 2016.
y


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PostPosted: 29 May 2012 01:52 
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Whay are they tracking India


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PostPosted: 29 May 2012 04:42 
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$500 million in hand, India pushes to rebuild old links with new Myanmar


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PostPosted: 29 May 2012 05:41 
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Past time to bring back the remains of the last Moghul Emperor,Bahadur Shah,and leader of the first freedom struggle,the so-called "Mutiny", from his Burmese internment.He was incarcerated into exile there by the British,and it would only be fitting to bring him home and give him the honour that is due to him.He may have been a weak leader ,but the patriots and freedom fighters of the day rallied around his banner and fought for India's freedom.


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PostPosted: 29 May 2012 08:47 
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Question: When we read of a company like "Jubilant Energy"( presumably part of the Jubilant Organic group) winning a contract to drill for oil, does that mean this company has major capability in that area? Or that the exercise is merely under their name, and the actual work is subcontracted to someone else? IOW, do they actually have the petroleum and chemical engineers, plus the required equipment? First time reading of this company involved in oil exploration.


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