NAYPYIDAW  - India's prime minister began a visit to Myanmar on Sunday, stepping up efforts to woo the resource-rich nation and seizing the chance to counter the influence of regional rival China. Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Myanmar President Thein Sein as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the three-day trip, the first by an Indian premier to the Southeast Asian nation in a quarter of a century. Energy-hungry India is eyeing Myanmar's large oil and natural gas reserves and is eager to boost trade after a half-century of military rule left Myanmar isolated and heavily reliant on its other giant neighbour China.

"Stronger trade and investment links, development of border areas, improving connectivity between our two countries and building capacity and human resources are areas that I hope to focus on during my visit," said Singh in a statement Sunday before departing on the trip.

Singh, who touched down in the capital Naypyidaw late Sunday, will meet Thein Sein on Monday. He arrived flanked by Indian journalists who travelled with him on the Air India flight and was met by senior Myanmar officials.

He will travel to the main city of Yangon for talks with Suu Kyi on Tuesday, in a move seen as a sign that India wants to reaffirm ties with the veteran activist.

New Delhi, once a staunch supporter of Suu Kyi's struggle for democracy, changed tack in the mid-1990s as it sought closer ties with Myanmar, and drew international criticism for its engagement with the former junta.