India and Myanmar on Thursday signed a series of agreements to improve the socioeconomic situation in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, from where thousands of Rohingyas had fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after a crackdown by the Myanmarese army in 2017.
On the second day of Myanmar President Win Myint's four-day visit to India, the two countries also signed a pact to deepen energy cooperation "in refining, stockpiling, blending and retail through a government-to-government memorandum of understanding," said a joint statement.
"Both sides agreed to encourage and facilitate cooperation among oil and gas companies of India and Myanmar for development of petroleum products, including enhancing trade and investments in this area," it said.
Indian investment in Myanmar's energy sector was welcomed and it was agreed "that efforts would be made to explore opportunities to export to India a portion of the output from such projects where investments have been made by Indian oil and gas public sector units," it added.
Four of the 10 agreements were aimed at ensuring better development of Rakhine state, which would improve conditions for the return of the Rohingyas, and lead to lessening of tensions between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Around 700,000 Rohingyas, who follow Islam, had fled Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country in 2017 after deadly riots. Myanmar says the Rohingyas were not its nationals, but illegal migrants from Bangladesh. However, Dhaka denies the claims. Both had sought India's support.
India reiterated its commitment to support Myanmar's efforts for promoting peace, stability and the socioeconomic development through the Rakhine State Development Programme.
"Myanmar appreciated India's provision of 250 prefabricated houses and relief material for displaced persons in northern Rakhine in 2019. Both sides agreed to expedite the implementation of a set of 12 projects...and to further strengthen their development cooperation within the framework of High Impact Community Development Projects and Quick Impact Projects under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation mechanism," it added.