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Thein Sein visits India

Oct. 12, 2011 at 7:38 AM   |   Comments

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NEW DELHI, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- A former Indian ambassador to Myanmar said changes orchestrated by Myanmar President Thein Sein end controversy on stronger ties between the neighboring states.

The comments by former Ambassador Shyam Saran came as Thein Sein began a visit to India -- the same day his government began releasing thousands of prisoners, including political detainees.

The prisoner release is the latest in a series of actions taken since Thein Sein's government took over in March following the first free elections in decades of military rule in the country former known as Burma. Those actions included freeing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Ky after years of house arrest.

Writing in the Hindustan Times, Saran said India, which in the past had been defensive about developing closer relations with a military government, will no longer face such inhibitions in reaching out to Thein Sein.

"The changed relationship between the government and Suu Kyi also opens the door for India to engage with the latter and support her measured steps to expand the political space for civilian, democratic political forces," Saran wrote.

As for China, Thein Sein, responding to strong public opposition in his country, last month ordered the suspension of the construction on the China-led $3.6 billion Myitsone hydro-electric power project.

India, weary of China's growing military might, has been concerned about Beijing's expanding presence in Myanmar.

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