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The External Affairs Minister of India (EAM) Shri Jaswant Singh, accompanied by a high level delegation, paid an official visit to Myanmar

February 15, 2001

The External Affairs Minister of India (EAM) Shri Jaswant Singh, accompanied by a high level delegation, paid an official visit to Myanmar (February 13 to 15, 2001) at the invitation of H.E. U Win Aung, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Union of Myanmar (List of delegates is at Annexure I). This was the first visit by an External Affairs Minister of India to Myanmar across the land border between the two countries.

While in Yangon, the EAM called on H.E. Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar and on Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 of the SPDC and held discussions with, H.E. U Win Aung. During the meeting between EAM and the Foreign Minister, Myanmar Ministers of Home, Industry-I, Science and Technology, Electric Power, Commerce, National Economic Planning and Development and Progress of Border Areas and National Races were also present.

The highlight of the visit was the inauguration of the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo highway, from the India-Myanmar border at Manipur, to the western bank of the Chindwin River, on February 13, 2001. EAM, accompanied by four Ministers from India's North-Eastern States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram and the Additional Chief Secretary of Manipur, senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, Home, Power and Surface Transport as well as the Corps Commander from Dimapur, arrived at the Myanmar border town of Tamu by IAF helicopter from Imphal in the morning of February 13, 2001. A 10-member media delegation also arrived in Tamu separately to cover the visit (list of members is at Annexure II).

EAM and his delegation were received by a high level Myanmar delegation, led by H.E. Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, Secretary-2 of the SPDC, Maj. Gen. Soe Win, Commander, North-West Area Command, Lt. Gen. Tin Hla, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Military Affairs, Maj. Gen. Saw Tun, Minister for Construction, Maj. Gen. Tin Htut, Minister for Electric Power, Col. Tin Hlaing, Minister for Home Affairs, Brig. Gen. Pyi Sone, Minister for Commerce, U Soe Tha, Minister for National Economic Planning and Development, Col. Thein Nyunt, Minister for Progress of Border Areas & National Races and several other high ranking officials.

The two delegations attended a brief but colourful inaugural ceremony at Tamu before proceeding by MAF helicopter to Kalewa, the terminus of the highway project, on the Chindwin River. Thereafter, the delegation drove along the highway to Kalemyo for the main inaugural ceremonies at Phangu Bridge. At Tamu, Kalewa and all along the route several thousand people of all ages had gathered to celebrate the occasion, waving Myanmar and Indian national flags.

On the occasion, H.E. Maj. Gen. Saw Tun and H.E. Maj. Gen. Soe Win, spoke on behalf of the Myanmar side. They conveyed their deep appreciation to the Government and people of India for constructing this important highway as a fully aided project. They underlined the role the highway would play in promoting economic development in the region as also providing a valuable cross-border link between India and Myanmar. The Myanmar dignitaries praised the role of the India Border Roads Organisation and in particular, the 760 BRTF, which worked tirelessly in the past three years to complete the project on schedule.

In his key-note address, EAM dedicated the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo highway as an enduring symbol of India-Myanmar friendship and a reflection of the age-old religious and cultural ties which bind our two countries together. EAM expressed the hope that full benefit would be derived from the road in promoting cross-border trade, tourism and economic development in general in our border areas. Later in his meeting with Foreign Minister U Win Aung, EAM said that the inauguration of the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road was the beginning of a road India and Myanmar have to traverse, of India-Myanmar cooperation.

The Myanmar Minister of Construction and EAM cut the ribbon at the ceremonial arch on the highway, to formally declare it open. A memorial plaque was unveiled by EAM to commemorate the occasion, in the presence of both Indian and Myanmar dignitaries and a public gathering of several thousand people.

A set of road building equipment and transport vehicles was also gifted by EAM to the Myanmar Deputy Prime Minister for use on the proposed Kalewa-Monywa highway, which is currently under construction.

With the completion of this extension of the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo highway and the construction of a bridge over the Chindwin River at Monywa, it would be possible to travel from the India-Myanmar border to Mandalay, the commercial and cultural capital of central Myanmar, within a day.

On February 13, 2001, the Myanmar delegation headed by H.E. Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, Secretary-2 of the SPDC accompanied EAM to Mandalay for the next leg of his visit. While in Mandalay, EAM and his delegation were guests at a banquet and cultural programme hosted by Maj. Gen. Ye Myint, Commander, Central Command and Chairman of the Mandalay Division Peace & Development Council.

EAM and his delegation left Mandalay for Yangon on February 14, 2001 by special MAF aircraft in the morning of February 14, 2001. H.E. Col. Tin Hlaing, Myanmar Minister of Home Affairs, accompanied the EAM on the visit.

While in Yangon and Mandalay, EAM had the opportunity to visit places of historical and cultural interest such as the sacred Shwedagon Pagoda, the Bahadur Shah Zafar Mazaar, where the last Mughal Emperor of India is buried and the Mandalay Royal Palace.

On February 15, 2001, EAM and H.E. U Thaung, Minister of Science & Technology, Government of the Union of Myanmar, jointly inaugurated the India-Myanmar Friendship Centre for Remote Sensing and Data Processing in Yangon in the presence of H.E. Lt Gen Tin Oo, Secretary-2 of the SPDC. This Centre has been set up with the assistance of the Government of India, and executed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The Centre will enable Myanmar to use IRS data on Myanmar for a range of highly useful applications in agriculture, forestry management, mineral surveys, water resources survey and monitoring of environmental pollution.

The EAM and his delegation left Yangon for New Delhi by special IAF aircraft in the afternoon on February 15, 2001. They were seen off at the airport by H.E. U Win Aung, Myanmar Minister for Foreign Affairs.

During the meetings with Myanmar dignitaries, discussions centered on the successful completion of the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo highway project and the contribution this would make to promoting cross-border trade, tourism and other activities in the respective border regions of the two countries. The EAM conveyed the willingness of the Government of India to cooperate with the Government of Myanmar in executing other mutually beneficial infrastructure projects. In this connection, the two sides reviewed progress on the proposed Tamanthi Hydro-Electric Project, near the India-Myanmar border across Nagaland as well as the proposed Kaladan River Navigation, Road and Gas Pipeline project in Myanmar's Rakhine State which would provide a link to southern Mizoram State in India as well as to India's North-East as a whole.

EAM reaffirmed to Myanmar leaders, India's willingness to extend its cooperation to the Myanmar side in the early realization of the proposed Yeywa Hydro-Electric Project near Mandalay. In this regard, EAM conveyed that a high level delegation from India's Ministry of Power will soon visit Myanmar for further discussions and a preliminary on-site survey.

The two sides also discussed cooperation in the hydro-carbon sector, including the supply of natural gas to India, once proven supplies became available. The Indian side will send a delegation of experts to Myanmar shortly to look into the possibilities of exploration at available sites being offered by the Myanmar side.
The two sides welcomed the exchange of high level visits between the two countries which is in keeping with the tradition of personal contacts between the leaders of two friendly neighbours. EAM extended a cordial invitation to H.E. U Win Aung, Myanmar's Foreign Minister to visit India. The invitation was accepted with pleasure and mutually convenient dates would be worked out through diplomatic channels.

EAM expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to H.E. Win Aung for the warm hospitality and friendship extended to his delegation and to him personally, ever since their arrival in Myanmar.

Yangon
February 15, 2001

ANNEXURE – I

LIST OF DELEGATES

  • Shri Pu Tawnluia, Home Minister, Mizoram
  • Shri Pradeep Hazarika, Minister of Transport and Food & Civil Supplies, Assam
  • Shri Nillo Rengma, Minister of Tourism & Parliamentary Affairs of Nagaland
  • Shri Setong Sena, Minister of State for Public Works, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Shri Shyam Saran, Ambassador of India to Myanmar
  • Lt. General A.K. Puri, DG, Border Roads Organisation
  • Lt. General T.S. Shergill, C-in-C, 3 Corps
  • Ms. L.K. Ponappa, Addl. Secretary (BSM), MEA
  • Shri P.D. Shenoy, Addl. Secretary, M/o Home Affairs
  • Shri D.V. Khera, Member (Hydro), Central Electricity Authority
  • Shri R.S. Jassal, Joint Secretary (XP), MEA
  • Shri Santosh Kumar, Secretary, Border Roads Development Board
  • Smt. Mukta D. Tomar, Counsellor (C&P), Embassy of India, Yangon
  • Col. Shakti Gurung, Defence Attache, Embassy of India, Yangon

ANNEXURE – II

LIST OF MEMBERS OF MEDIA DELEGATION

  • Shri Naveen Kapoor, ANI
  • Shri Rajkumar Atal, ANI
  • Shri Kalyan Barooah, Assam Tribune
  • Shri Nirmal Pathak, Dainik Jagran
  • Shri Ramesh Bhan, UNI
  • Shri Swapan Dasgupta, India Today
  • Shri Sisir Gupta, Hindustan Times
  • Shri Amit Baruah, The Hindu
  • Shri P.S. Sengupta, PTI-Photo
  • Shri Rakesh Sinha, Indian Express
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