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October 05, 2012

Burmese President to Visit Seoul

by VOA News

Burmese President Thein Sein is headed to South Korea, the latest step in an effort to rehabilitate his country's image.

The Burmese leader is expected to travel Monday to Seoul for the start of a three-day visit, which will include a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

South Korean spokesperson Lee Mi-Yeon, in the Office of the President, said economic issues and trade will be a prime focus.

“The two leaders will exchange opinions on ways to cooperate on regional issues in Southeast, Northeast Asia, including the Korean peninsula, and the international stage,” said Lee.

Thein also is scheduled to meet with South Korean business leaders.

The United States and other countries have been lifting trade sanctions against Burma in response to reforms by the country's military-backed government, making the resource-rich southeast Asian nation a prime candidate for investment and development.

But trade is not the only item on the agenda.

An official in South Korea's Office of the President, speaking on condition of anonymity, told VOA's Korean Service that Lee also will raise the issue of Burma's military ties to North Korea.

Burma has long been criticized for its suspected military relationship with North Korea. Earlier this year, President Thein Sein said Burma would comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution which prohibits supplying Pyongyang's weapons programs with arms, money, training, or other assistance.

Thein's trip comes about five months after Lee became the first South Korean president to visit Burma in almost 30 years.

Before Lee, the last South Korean president to visit Burma was Chun Doo-hwan, who narrowly escaped a 1983 assassination attempt in Rangoon by North Korean commandos.