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NEWS - Burma Pledges to Help Thais
- Subject: NEWS - Burma Pledges to Help Thais
- From: BurmaJapan@xxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 14:09:00
Burma Pledges to Help Thais Repatriate Illegals
BANGKOK, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Burma's
military government on Tuesday pledged
to help Thailand repatriate more than one
million illegal Burmese workers,
government officials said.
Thailand, wracked by an economic crisis,
wants to repatriate Burmese who are
working illegally as cheap labour. Once
they leave, they can be replaced with Thai
workers, the officials said.
The issue was brought up in talks
between Burmese foreign minister Ohn
Gyaw and Thai Prime Minister Chuan
Ohn Gyaw, foreign minister under
Burma's newly created State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), also came
to pay a courtesy call on Chuan, who
became premier last month. The Burmese
official is in Thailand for the third
Thai-Burma Joint Commission meeting.
``He (Ohn Gyaw) brought best wishes
from SPDC to Prime Minister Chuan and
pledged full cooperation with Thailand in
sorting out problems between Thailand
and Myanmar (Burma) on a number of
issues -- drugs, displaced persons and
illegal workers plus economic
cooperation,'' Thai Foreign Minister Surin
Pitsuwan told reporters after the meeting.
Nearly 100,000 people have sought refuge
in Thailand since 1984, when they crossed
the border to flee fighting inside Burma.
Surin said Chuan would have similar
discussions with SPDC chairman Than
Shwe on the fringes of a forthcoming
Association of South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
In addition to the bilateral talks in the
Malaysian capital, Thailand would act as
ASEAN representative and try to play a
mediating role between Burma and the
European Union, Surin said.
``I personally feel that this could be a
beginning of some other changes, positive
changes that could follow,'' he said. ``At
least that's the feeling that ASEAN
countries have ... the change in Myanmar
(Burma) is going to lead to some more
positive developments,'' Surin said when
asked if the recent change in name of the
Burmese government had brought about a
change in policy.
Last month, Burma made a sudden
announcement that the State Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC),
which had ruled the country with an iron
fist since seizing power in 1988, was
abolished and would be replaced with the
Although many cabinet ministers were
changed and the ruling military body was
reshuffled, the top leaders remained the
Ohn Gyaw, who was also foreign minister
under SLORC, said there was ``continuity
in change'' in the new government.
``It's a continuity in change. Meaning that
we do not change the principles but
activity and diversity will be more
increased,'' he said.
Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.All rights