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Bangkok Post (6/5/98)

Burma blasts minister for China claims

Burma's junta yesterday blasted Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes
for accusing Rangoon of allowing China the use of its territory to set up
military installations.

"It is very regretful that India's defence minister chose to claim without
substantial evidence that China is using Burma's Coco Islands for strategic
defence measures," a top junta official said in a statement received in

The outspoken Indian defence minister sparked heated debate for his
comments on Monday that China was New Delhi's number one enemy.

He said China was training Burma's army and had set up a "massive
electronic surveillance establishment" on the Coco Islands, at the northern
tip on India's Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Mr Fernandes also accused China of stockpiling nuclear weapons in Tibet
along India's borders.

But the Burmese official said Mr Fernands was using the threat of Chinese
aggression as justification for regional nuclear expansion.

"A myth has been unprecedentedly created to serve as a pretext.... to
justify the nuclear and defend build-up in the region," he said.

Burma denies Indian claims

BURMA on Tuesday denied an Indian minister's statement that China had built
a sophisticated eletronic surveillance base on a Burmese island from where
Beijing could monitor Indian defence activity.
" It is regretful that India's defence minister chose to claim without
substantial evidence that China is using Burma's Coco Islands for strategic
defence measures " a statement from the ruling Burmese military junta said.

India's Defence Minister George Fernandes said on Sunday China was using a
base in the islands, just 40 kilometres from the northern tip of India's
Andaman Islands, that could monitor Indian defence activity along the
country's east cost.

As many as 200,000 Karen ' left homeless by conflicts'

Up to two hundred thousand of ethnic Karen people have fled Burma's
internecine battles and the government's forced-relocation plans, a report
by an opposition-affiliated group said yesterday.
The report by the Burma Ethnic Research Group said between 100,000 and
200,000 displaced Karenni people had been forgotten despite being the
victims of ongoing fighting between Burmese government troops and ethnic
Karen opposition force.
" Force relocation is clearly practised widely by the Burmese government
and reflects policy at the highest level," said the report, obtained by the
Bangkok Post.
Some 90,000 Karen refugees are in camps inside Thailand, and the Thai
government plans to move the camps further into the interior for security
reasons following raids by the Democratic Karen Buddhist's Army, which is
supported by Rangoon's military regime.
The report cited concern about insufficient aid to the displaced Karen from
the international community, calling it the result of the Burmese
government denies that the problem exists and denies access to those
displaced," it said.
Including both the groups in Thailand and those displace within Burma
itself, the Burma Ethnic Research Group said at  least 30 percent of the
entire Karen population was homeless.