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Burma and Thailand May Re-Open Borders Soon

Burma and Thailand have moved closer to soothing months of strained relations after a two-day visit to Bangkok by Burma's foreign minister. The two countries may soon re-open their border.

Burmese Foreign Minister Wing Aung met with his Thai counterpart, Surakiart Sathirathai, and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Wednesday in Bangkok.

He described the meetings as "friendly" and "fruitful" and said Thailand and Burma are likely to re-open their border within weeks.

"In principle we both agree that it will be beneficial to both our countries for the re-opening of the border checkpoints," Burmese Foreign Minister Wing Aung said.

For his part, Mr. Surakiart said overall border tensions have been resolved and both sides are finalizing details on its re-opening.

"We have identified 10 areas that we would be working together in setting up ground rules because as Minister Win Aung said, once the checkpoints are open it will never close again, which I agree," Mr. Surakiart said

A Thai delegation will travel to Rangoon next week to iron out the agreement. Burmese and Thai traders say they are losing millions of dollars in revenue as a result of the border closures.

Burma closed border crossings after a series of clashes and shooting incidents in May. Burma accused Thailand's military of aiding Burma's ethnic Shan rebels, a charge Bangkok denied.

Thailand does want Burma to crackdown on illegal immigration and ethnic rebels involved in drug trafficking through Thailand. The border area is part of the so-called "golden triangle", one of the world's largest narcotics-producing regions.