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Burma Intelligence Chief Visits Thailand - 2001-09-03

Burma's intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, has arrived in Thailand for a rare official visit on improving bilateral ties. Relations soured earlier this year by military exchanges of fire in their ongoing border dispute. Burma's military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, the third most senior member of the military government, arrived in Bangkok Monday. Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt is heading an entourage of more than 30 cabinet ministers and senior military officers on this three-day visit aimed at further soothing bilateral ties.

Thai officials say the main issues to be covered during this visit include fighting drug trafficking, controlling the influx of migrant workers into Thailand and resumption of fishing concessions in Burmese waters. Bilateral relations soured markedly earlier this year when Thai and Burmese soldiers exchanged gunfire on their disputed border. Relations have been long-been strained by drug trafficking from inside Burma and the presence of more than 100,000 Burmese refugees living on Thai northwest border.

The General Khin Nyunt's visit comes after new Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, traveled to Burma in June.

Security was tight in Bangkok. Thai police at Government House held back a small group of activists protesting the general's visit. The pro-democracy activists condemned him for being a symbol of repression by Burma's military government.

Rangoon's leaders came to power in 1988 and refused to relinquish power after the opposition National League for Democracy won elections by a landslide in 1990. Thai government deputy spokesman, Kuthep Saikrajang, says Burma's internal politics will not be on the agenda.