Anand Sharma assures Aung San Suu Kyi of aid in development

New Delhi, June 6 (ANI): Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma today met Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Myanmar at Nay Pyi Taw.

Sharma, who is in Myanmar on an official trip, conveyed to Suu Kyi that India stands ready to extend all necessary assistance to the people of Myanmar in their developmental efforts.

"Myanmar is a vitally important neighbour for us. The relations between our two countries have broadened and deepened in the past two years," said Sharma.

Suu Kyi, however, expressed keen interest in building linkages with the textiles sector of India.

Stressing the preference of the people of Myanmar for natural fiber, Suu Kyi said that the handloom sector of India has immense potential for Myanmar.

Pointing to the conducive ecology, Suu Kyi sought India's help in developing a full value chain for silk production in Myanmar.

Sharma, who met Suu Kyi on the sideline of the World Economic Forum's East Asia summit, also conveyed the greetings from Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the Myanmarese leader.

Sharma also met U Than Htay, Minister of Energy, Myanmar. In his meeting with the Than Htay, Sharma conveyed the interest of Indian banks in setting up their branches in Myanmar.

"India will also be happy to assist in strengthening the banking system in Myanmar as we inherit common banking laws," said Sharma. The two Ministers set a bilateral trade target of USD 3 billion by 2015.

Sharma also conveyed India's interest in deepening cooperation in procuring energy, oil and natural gas from Myanmar.

"Our companies are interested in securing more exploratory oil and gas blocks both onshore and offshore," said Sharma.

The issue of the revival of the discussions on the gas pipeline connection between India and Myanmar through Bangladesh was also discussed.

Sharma said that India stands ready to continue to assist Myanmar in the development of its infrastructural projects.

"We are encouraged by the progress that has been made on implementation of several of the decisions taken during the State visit of President of Myanmar in October 2011 and that of our Prime Minister in May 2012," said Sharma. He also expressed happiness over the progress made in the Inland Waterway component of the Kaladan project.

The need to improve air, road and water connectivity between India and Myanmar also came up for discussion between the two Ministers.

"A Joint Working Groups (JWG) to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of cross-border rail links and the commercial feasibility of direct shipping links between the two countries are working with the sole aim to boosting the trade ties between the two countries," said Sharma.

While in 2011, the total trade between the two countries stood at USD 1.708 billion, it was USD 1.872 billion in 2012. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, Singapore and China. (ANI)