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Senior Burmese Official Ends Thai Visit - 2001-09-05

Burma's military intelligence chief General Khin Nyunt has finished a three-day official visit to Thailand with bilateral relations back on solid ground after cross-border tensions earlier this year. The visit reflected the importance that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government pays to relations with the military government in Rangoon.

Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt called the visit to Thailand a great success in patching relations between the countries.

The general led a delegation of more than 30 ministers and senior officials and held top-level talks with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Thai Defense Minister, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. He also was granted an audience with Thai King Bhumipol Adulyadej.

Both Mr. Thaksin and General Chavalit visited Rangoon earlier this year as part of efforts to sooth border relations. Tensions rose amid cross border shelling and accusations of Burmese military backing to the ethnic Wa in the amphetamine drugs trade into Thailand.

But Khin Nyunt, the third most powerful general in the military government, said both sides were "completely satisfied reaching amicable solutions on a range of issues."

Those issues include an offer by Thailand to allocate $450,000 dollars to provide technical advice to Burma in drug suppression, through crop substitution, aimed at reducing opium poppy production. Burma remains a major source of heroin and amphetamines for international drug markets.

But Bangkok-based diplomats said it appears the Burmese delegation had given little, with an anticipated resumption of Thai fishing access to Burmese waters still not resolved. Thai fishing vessels have officially been prevented from Burmese waters since an October 1999 siege on the Burmese embassy in Bangkok.

General Chavalit said General Khin Nyunt had given assurances the government would press ahead with political reforms in Burma.

The military government has been holding secretive talks with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as part of U.N. Special Envoy Razali Ismail's effort to promote a political dialogue.

National League for Democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, remains under house detention, but more than 150 political prisoners and dissidents have been released as a result of the on-going talks.