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China Calls For Talks Over Burma Dam


Burma's President Thein Sein, left, and Chinese President Hu Jintao watch a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 27, 2011.

Burma's President Thein Sein, left, and Chinese President Hu Jintao watch a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 27, 2011.

China has called for talks with Burma after the Burmese government suspended a controversial dam project.

In a statement posted on the agency's website Saturday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei called on Burma to hold consultations to handle any problems with the Myitsone dam project.

The statement notes that both countries agreed to undertake the project after rigorous studies and reviews.

China and Burma agreed in 2009 to build a $ 3.6 billion dam on the Irrawaddy River in northern Burma, slated for completion in 2019.

The joint project has sparked protests by environmentalists and local residents who say the dam would flood a huge area and have devastating consequences for the people and the environment.

Burma's new President Thein Sein, a former general, told the parliament to act according to the desire of the people.

The nominally civilian government was elected in November in Burma's first election in two decades. President Thein Sein was inaugurated in March.

Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released in November after some 15 years in detention, warned in early August of the devastating consequences the dam would have on the country's rice production and on the life of the local population. She appealed to the governments of Burma and China to take steps to avoid consequences of the construction which could endanger lives and homes.

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