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New Delhi Correspondent
India on Tuesday handed over to Myanmar the first batch of 50 houses New Delhi has built in Rakhine province for Rohingya refugees on their return from Bangladesh while Myanmar announced visa-on-arrival facility for Indian tourists as President Ram Nath Kovind began a three-day state visit to that country.
The 50 houses India handed over are part of a total of 250 houses under a socio-economic development project in Rakhine from where thousands of Rohingyas fled in 2017 after being subjected to a worst form of genocide in Myanmar.
Coinciding with President Kovind’s visit and to further people-to-people relations, Myanmar announced a visa-on-arrival facility for Indian tourists entering the country through the international airports of Nay Pyi Taw, the capital,Yangon, the main commercial hub, and Mandalay.
Kovind commenced his visit to Myanmar with a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw where he was formally received by President U. Win Myint of Myanmar.
Later, the Indian President led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Kovind said India attaches special priority to its relations with Myanmar which is a key partner for India’s “Act East” and “Neighbourhood First” policies. President Kovind also described Myanmar as a “natural bridge” from India to Southeast Asia and ASEAN.
The President said India takes pride in its development cooperation partnership with Myanmar and is committed to completing all connectivity projects. The port and inland waterway components of the Kaladan project in Myanmar have been built by India which reiterated its pledge to expedite the completion of the remaining projects including a trilateral highway connecting with Thailand.
The President also met Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar, at the Presidential Palace when the two leaders discussed various bilateral and multilateral issues. The Indian President said that New Delhi deeply appreciates the democratic reforms underway in Myanmar. “We understand that this is a particularly challenging time for Myanmar. India is in full support of the objectives of the national peace process,” he added.