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Burma, India Sign Defense, Economic Deals

India and Burma have signed several new agreements to build stronger economic and defense ties, during a visit to India by Burma's reclusive military ruler.

Senior General Than Shwe, received a formal welcome Tuesday in New Delhi, where he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian officials.

The two countries signed five agreements following the talks, including a plan to jointly combat arms smuggling across their shared border. India also agreed to help Burma in a host of projects such as building roads, developing waterways, and a port.

Rights groups have criticized India for engaging with Burma, citing concerns about the Burmese government's continued repression of its political opponents. Pro-democracy activists have held demonstrations in New Delhi to protest against Than Shwe's five-day visit.

Aside from their shared border, Burma is of important strategic interest to India because of its large natural gas reserves.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.