Yangon, May 29 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday said Myanmar is entering a new phase in its nation building, and added that India as a close friend and well wisher will be happy to see this country join the ranks of the economically dynamic and politically vibrant countries of South-East Asia.
"The Government of India is ready to extend a hand of friendship to support Myanmar's long-term development priorities," said Dr. Singh in his address to think-tank's and business community at an event organized by Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute in Yangon on India and Myanmar: A Partnership for Progress and Regional Development.
"With this in mind and looking to the future, we are together identifying new areas of potential cooperation that will reflect our common vision of an expanded and strong multi-faceted partnership," he added.
Calling more exchanges to take place between India and Myanmar, Dr. Singh said: " We could support capacity and institution building in areas relating to public administration. We were privileged to receive a parliamentary delegation from Myanmar led by the Speaker. We should encourage more such exchanges."
"We will also expand people to people exchanges. To this end, we are exploring the idea of a Mandalay-Imphal bus service to facilitate travel for tourism, pilgrimage and medical consultation. To this end, we seek to strengthen link with all sections of society," he added.
The Prime Minister expressed his delight over the civil aviation authorities agreeing to enhance direct flights, including by private carriers, and grant fifth freedom rights.
"I am happy that our civil aviation authorities have agreed to enhance direct flights, including by private carriers, and grant fifth freedom rights. We will need a similar initiative to increase shipping links," he said.
Dr. Singh said both India and Myanmar have the responsibility of preserving the common historical heritage and promoting cultural exchanges, particularly among the youth.
"We are examining the idea of an India-Myanmar Foundation to promote educational, cultural and literary exchanges. I am also glad that the Archaeological Survey of India is restoring the Ananda Temple in Bagan, one of Myanmar's cultural treasures," he added.
Asserting that there is a need to develop cooperation in social sectors like health and education, Dr. Singh said: " A beginning has been made through the upgradation projects underway in Yangon Children's Hospital and Sittwe General Hospital. The MoU signed between Calcutta and Dagon universities is a welcome development."
"In the past we have depended on western sources to learn about each other. We should pro-actively encourage direct intellectual exchanges among our civil societies and academia," he added.
Stating that agricultural cooperation is progressing well, Dr. Singh said : " We have yesterday signed an agreement for setting up an Advanced Center for Agricultural Research and Education near Naypyidaw. This center of excellence will focus on crops of interest to both countries including rice, pulses and oilseeds and promote overall food security."
"We also need to expand our security cooperation that is vital not only to maintain peace along our land borders but also to protect maritime trade which we hope will open up through the sea route between Kolkata and Sittwe," he added.
The Prime Minister further said enhanced cooperation in regional forums would be mutual benefit to both India and Myanmar.
" We look forward to Myanmar taking leadership of regional groupings as it hosts the BIMSTEC Summit this year and the ASEAN Summit in 2014. We look forward to the honour of welcoming President Thein Sein in India for the India-ASEAN 20th year Commemorative Summit later this year," he added. (ANI)