New Delhi: A multi-think tank scholars' delegation led by Rajiv Bhatia, Director-General, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), is visiting Myanmar March 3-9 to take part in a conference organised in collaboration with the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS) as part of the growing engagement between the two neighbours.
Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran will also be the part of the delegation. Both Bhatia and Saran have served as envoys to Myanmar.
The delegation will travel to three cities in Myanmar- Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, and Mandalay - and interact with a number of think tanks, universities, and ethnic communities including the Indian community. The delegation is also likely to call on a number of senior ministers and high officials, including the leader of National League for Democracy, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
India and Myanmar have shared historical, ethnic, cultural, and religious ties, which got disrupted on account of various internal and external exigencies. The commencement of the reform processes in Myanmar has provided an opportunity to reengage the country, which is India's immediate neighbour and shares a long land boundary of 1643 km with India's northeast region and maritime borders in the Bay of Bengal region.
India has a stake in developing good relations with Myanmar from both security and economic perspectives. Myanmar's cooperation is necessary for developing India's north-east region and also for meeting energy security.
Myanmar has the potential to become a convenient transit route for India's growing trade relations with Southeast Asia, and also to develop the Mekong Ganga cooperation (MGC) sub-region. Myanmar is scheduled to chair ASEAN in 2014, which further necessitates India's engagement with Myanmar, Bhatia stated.