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Than Shwe to include Buddhist pilgrimage in official trip to India


New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burmese junta chief Senior General Than Shwe is to pay an official visit to India late this month, which is to include a visit to Bodh Gaya in Bihar State, where, according to Buddhist texts, Prince Siddharta Gautama is said to have achieved enlightenment following 49 days of meditation to become The Buddha.

The junta leader will meet Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and other ministers. The Indian embassy in Rangoon confirmed the expected visit of Burma’s head of state, but declined to give Mizzima further details.

Indian papers reported that the Burmese delegation’s trip would be from July 25-29.

The senior general’s 70-member entourage, including family members, will first visit the reputed site of the Buddha’s enlightenment before proceeding to New Delhi, the Indian capital.

“We learned from the Burmese embassy in India that the senior general will come here for a pilgrimage trip,” a monk in the Indian holy city of Varanasi, at least seven miles (11 kilometres) from the site of Buddha’s first sermon, told Mizzima. 

Though India originally extended its support to Burma’s pro-democracy struggle led by Aung San Suu Kyi following the massacres by junta soldiers in 1988, New Delhi has since changed course, strengthening official relations and investing vast sums inside Burma in accord with its “Look East” policy developed during the 1990s.

Than Shwe last visited India in October 2004.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 July 2010 23:02 )  

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