PM Modi to meet Aung San Suu Kyi during Myanmar visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his forthcoming visit to Myanmar starting Tuesday to attend the India-Asean and East Asia summits, MEA officials said on Saturday.

As part of its “Act East” policy, India is looking to deepen ties with Asean. Mr Modi will also meet the Myanmar President in a separate bilateral meeting. India is expected to pitch for improving connectivity in the region to give a boost to trade and people-to-people contact. Mr Modi leaves for Myanmar on November 11 to attend the 12th Asean-India summit and the 9th East Asia summit on November 12 and 13, respectively, on the first leg of his three-nation, 10-day foreign tour that will also take him to Australia and Fiji.

Giving a broad overview of the two back-to-back summits, MEA officials said India is keen that the next Asean-India five-year plan of action starting 2016 should lay emphasis on enhancing people-to-people contacts, augmenting trade besides reinforcing the strategic and political relationships. The plan will also focus on the security architecture in the region, he said.

An ambitious project is underway to develop a 3,200-km highway linking India, Myanmar and Thailand. It was originally envisaged to be completed around 2017 but it is behind schedule and now expected to be completed by 2018.

Noting that the grouping of Southeast Asian nations hopes to make the Asean Economic Community (AEC) a reality by the end of 2015, officials said the free trade pact in services and investment between India and Asean is expected to help bilateral trade touch $100 billion by 2015.

At recent high-level meetings, India has said there should be connectivity in all its dimensions geographic, institutional and people-to-people. Officials said India is keen to tap the potential offered by the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit to attract more tourists from Southeast Asian nations.

The Asian Age