Myanmar, India to ink pact

New Delhi, June 27:

India and Myanmar will sign an investment pact and hold talks on wider border trade as a sign of expanding ties between New Delhi and military rulers of the secretive state, officials said.

India would also offer credit totalling $84 million to Myanmar during a trip to the country by junior commerce minister Jairam Ramesh, who left for Myanmar on Sunday on a four-day long working visit, commerce ministry officials said.

India was one of the first countries to rush aid to Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis hit on May 2-3, leaving 134,000 people dead or missing by latest count.

The accord comes amid criticism by the global community of Myanmar’s cyclone relief efforts and longstanding international calls for India to pressure Myanmar to shift to democracy.

Bilateral trade between India and Myanmar totalled $590 million in 2005-2006, the latest ministry figures available show, according to the Indian foreign ministry.

In April, the two sides signed an accord under which New Delhi would invest $130 million in Myanmar’s Sittwe port on the Bay of Bengal that will give India’s northeast access to a new trade route to Southeast Asia.