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Myanmar cabinet changes aim to poli

Subject: Myanmar cabinet changes aim to polish image

Myanmar cabinet changes aim to polish image
01:02 a.m. Nov 15, 1998 Eastern

YANGON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Myanmar has sought to improve its poor image
abroad with the appointment of a career diplomat as foreign minister at the
weekend, government sources said on Sunday.

The elevation of Myanmar's ambassador to Britain, Win Aung, to the foreign
ministership in Saturday's cabinet reshuffle marks a government effort to
ease long-standing pressure on military-ruled Myanmar from Western nations,
the sources said.

Win Aung, a diplomat for at least 10 years and former Myanmar envoy to
Germany, replaced Ohn Gyaw who retired after serving in the post since the
early 1990s.

``The change comes as Myanmar needs to improve its foreign image,'' one
government source said.

``Win Aung is a man capable of playing an active role and taking
initiatives. We don't know if Myanmar foreign policy will change but it will
be conducted in a different style.''

Ohn Gyaw was regarded as a conservative in the government, which is
criticised by the international community for its human rights record and
heavy-handed treatment of opposition political activities.

``It cannot be because of his age. There are many as old as him in the
cabinet,'' the source said. Win Aung is aged 54.

The surprise reshuffle included the addition of a third deputy prime
minister, Lieutenant General Tin Hla, who would continue to serve as
minister of military affairs.

Tin Hla has overseen the military's interest in two local banks, various
businesses as well as industrial joint ventures partly owned by the army.

The reshuffle did not affect Deputy Prime Minister Tin Tun, 68, who is
expected to retire soon because of frail health. Lieutenant General Tin Ngwe
was named Minister of the Prime Minister's Office, and former Minister of
Industry-2 Hla Myint Swe became new transport minister.

Four new deputy ministers and four supreme court judges were also named to
succeed retiring senior colleagues.

Government sources said they regarded new Foreign Minister Win Aung as a
rising star, partly due to his close ties to Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt,
the powerful Secretary One of the ruling State Peace and Development

``It is good that a person who has to implement the policy is close to the
person who lays down the policy,'' a political analyst said.

Win Aung has occasionally contributed articles to state-run newspapers under
a pseudonym to express his political and foreign policy views, the
government sources said.

As ambassador to Britain, he had the tough job of maintaining relations with
London as it tried to force Myanmar out of the International Labour
Organisation and discouraged Britons from visiting Myanmar, the sources