07/20/2010, 00.00
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Senior General Than Shwe in India to discuss trade and security

The visit is scheduled for 25-29 July. Under the guise of religion, the trip will favour closer economic ties and tighter controls on rebel groups along the Indo-Burmese border. Tata Motors might be interested in moving production of its Nano minicar to Myanmar.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Senior General Than Shwe, head of Myanmar’s military junta, is set to pay an official visit to India between 25 and 29 July. Ostensibly religious in nature, his second visit in six years will include discussions on border security and economic cooperation between the two countries. It might also involve business with the Tata Group, India’s multinational conglomerate, which could move production of its Nano minicar to the former Burma.

The trip is expected to begin in the city of Bodh Gaya (Bihar), where Siddhartha Gautama is supposed to have attained enlightenment after 49 days of meditation.

The general will then fly to New Delhi for talks with Indian President Pratil Patel and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as other members of the Indian government.

Indian government sources are downplaying the visit, “just routine development of relations between governments of neighbouring countries”, they said, like other meetings with heads of state from nearby countries such as Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. 

However, a summit between the leaders of the world’s largest democracy and the head of one of the most isolated and totalitarian regime, second only to North Korea, is generating interest and raising concerns because the two sides appear to be more interested in business and internal security rather than human rights.

General Than Shwe is also expected to be a guest of honour at Tata Headquarters in Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), better known as Tatanagar (Tata City).

In September, top Tata officials are expected in Myanmar, confirming the Indian Group’s interest in its neighbour.

In the past, Myanmar’s ruling junta was quite strict in relation to foreign investments, but now a wind of change has been sweeping the country, and production of the Nano minicar could move.

Despite sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union against Myanmar for human rights violations, Asian nations are increasing their investments and trade in the military-run nation.

China and India are indeed extending their tentacles over Burma’s mineral and natural wealth, fuelling all sorts of trafficking and boosting the power of its military rulers.

Than Shwe and Indian leaders are also likely to discuss security on their long common border—rebel groups operate on both sides.

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