India’s Look East policy has brought cheer to its northeastern states, as trade and cultural ties with neighbouring countries are getting stronger.

Recently, a delegation from Myanmar visited here to strengthen bilateral cultural relations.

On November 21, the first international flight from Myanmar landed at Tulihal International Airport in Imphal.

The Golden Myanmar Airlines aircraft arrived with over 100 passengers to take part in the annual Sangai Festival.

The delegation, including the Chief Minister of Mandalay region, U Ye Mint, Chief Minister of Sagaing Region, U Thar Aye, several Meitei Diaspora and media persons were warmly received by Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh.

Manipur is hopeful of turning a significant regional hub for international flights to Southeast Asian countries, thereby promoting trade, tourism, business and investment.

“This is a very very historic moment. Manipur is witnessing the first international flight here. We have over 100 visitors from neighbouring Myanmar. Businessmen and ministers are coming down. I think the bilateral trade between manipur and Myanmar is going to increase manifold,” said James Khangembam, an entrepreneur from Manipur.

A business conclave was also organised to explore trade and investment opportunities between Manipur and Myanmar.

The Myanmar delegation interacted with Manipuri traders and discussed the issues concerning border trade.

Both sides were keen on capitalizing on the huge potential for joint ventures between the two countries in several sectors.

“Manipur is the starting point from where any business in India’s Look East policy for Northeast is to start with. Therefore, Myanmar is a very key centre. That is why the Government of Myanmar and the Government of India is giving importance to the trade corridors at Tamu and Moreh in Manipur,” said Dr. Manmohan Shetty, Consulate General to Mayanmar.

The Myanmar delegation later attended the annual ten-day long “Sangai Festival” inaugurated by DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar at Hafta Kangjeibung in Imphal East District.

The biggest annual tourism festival of Manipur aims to highlight the state’s cultural heritage, eco-adventure activities, indigenous food and handicraft. Altogether 600 stalls were set up at the venue.

Participants from Thailand and Bangladesh also set up their stalls during the festival.

“Manipur is the jewel of India and we want to showcase the beauty, culture and heritage of Manipur, not only at the national level, but also international level,” said Ghatowar.

” As we all know, Manipur is very rich culturally. When you talk about Manipur, people know about Ras Leela, the culture, the sports. With this festival, now Manipur will come more forward,” said Usha, a visitor from Delhi.

In order to foster a better relationship, November 23rd was celebrated as Myanmar Day during the festival.

About 200 paintings by six artists of Myanmar’s Mandalay Art Club were also on display at the art exhibition held at Nupi Lal Complex.

A large crowd thronged the Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre to enjoy the performance of Myanmarese martial arts troupes.

The audience was left enthralled by the traditional dances of artists from Myanmar. (ANI)

Link: http://in.news.yahoo.com/myanmar-delegation-visits-manipur-strengthen-cultural-ties-103006827.html?