Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s speech at the banquet hosted by the President of Myanmar, U Thein Sein in Myanmar today:
“I would like to thank President U Thein Sein for his warm words of welcome and the gracious hospitality extended to me and my delegation. We have been deeply touched by the warmth, affection and friendship of the people of Myanmar.
This is my first visit to your beautiful country and to this impressive capital. Our talks earlier today and the agreements that we have signed have put in place a roadmap for the rapid development of our relations in the years ahead. This will build on the firm foundations laid during your highly successful visit to India last year.
India and Myanmar are natural partners, linked by geography and history. Since time immemorial, trade, people and ideas have flowed between our lands. The teachings of Lord Buddha have inspired generations of scholars, monks, pilgrims and common people in both our countries for almost two millennia. I am keenly looking forward to visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda and the mausoleum of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar tomorrow to pay my respects to our shared heritage.
There are many areas where our two countries can enhance cooperation to our mutual benefit. With its unique geographic location, Myanmar can be a bridge linking South and South East Asia to East Asia. There is much untapped potential in our economic relationship. We need to promote more exchanges among our parliamentarians, academics, scientists, artists and intellectuals. There is so much we can rediscover and learn from each other’s culture and society.
This year is the Twentieth Year of our partnership with ASEAN. We look forward to receiving Your Excellency for the Commemorative India-ASEAN Summit later this year.
The people of Myanmar have shown great vision in embarking on a journey of national reconciliation and transition. This has been made possible largely by Your Excellency’s vision and statesmanship. The people of India stand ready to support your efforts to create a democratic, stable and prosperous Myanmar.
I would like to recall the words of our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on the occasion of Myanmar’s independence in 1948:
“As in the past, so in the future, the people of India will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Burma, and whether we have to share good fortune or ill fortune, we shall share it together”.
It gives me great pleasure to invite you to join me in raising a toast:
To the good health and well being of His Excellency President U Thein Sein and Daw Khin Khin Win,
To the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Myanmar, and
To the eternal bonds of friendship between India and Myanmar.”