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India, Myanmar agree to boost ties

January 21, 2003 15:33 IST

India has agreed to increase cooperation in energy and transport with Myanmar, where India is keen to counter growing influence from China.

The agreements were reached in talks between Myanmar's Foreign Minister Win Aung, the first senior leader from the military-ruled country to visit New Delhi since 1987, and his Indian counterpart Yashwant Sinha.

"The two delegations reviewed various projects, particularly in the energy sector. Possibilities for exploration of onshore oil and gas reserves by India were also discussed," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters on Tuesday.

The Myanmar minister is on a six-day visit to India.

New Delhi and Yangon enjoyed good relations in the past but ties cooled in the late 1980s when India supported Myanmar's pro-democracy movement that won national elections in 1990 but was denied power by the military.

Myanmar has been largely shunned by Western governments for its suppression of democracy and its poor human rights record since then but its relations with China have improved considerably.

China and Myanmar cooperate in a broad range of fields including some military and security areas and analysts say India wants to limit Chinese influence in Myanmar.

While relations between China and India, which fought a brief border war in the 1960s, have improved in recent years they still eye each other with suspicion.

India and Myanmar share a porous 1,600-km border and insurgents battling Indian rule in its remote northeast have used Myanmar as a refuge.

Sarna said Myanmar was also interested in cooperation in information technology and it wanted to boost business between the two countries.

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