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Reuters-Thailand seeks to mend stra

Subject: Reuters-Thailand seeks to mend strained Myanmar ties

Thailand seeks to mend strained Myanmar ties
01:07 a.m. Feb 17, 1999 Eastern
BANGKOK, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Thailand indicated on Wednesday it wanted to
improve its diplomatic ties with Myanmar's military government after a
series of border incidents have strained relations.

Thai army chief Surayuth Chulanont told reporters at Bangkok airport before
a three-day official visit to Yangon that his mission was to sooth relations
between the two neighbours.

``My duty is to try to promote closer relations and understanding between
the military of the two nations as well as the people of the two
countries,'' Surayuth said.

Relations between Thailand and Myanmar have been tested in recent months
since a series of gun battles in the sea along disputed border areas between
the southern Thai province of Ranong and Myanmar's Victoria point.

At least seven people have been killed in the incidents, involving armed
Myanmar vessels and the Thai navy, which have occurred sporadically since
the middle of 1998.

Both countries claim the dispute area which covers a 100 km (62.5 mile)
offshore border in the Andaman Sea.

A Thai military spokesman said the Thai army was actively seeking an end to
the tension and was scheduled to host a meeting between the two sides in
March to discuss and try to resolve the border dispute.

The spokesman said Surayuth would meet the leaders of Myanmar's ruling State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC) during his trip to Yangon.

Myanmar Foreign Minister Win Aung is expected to arrive in Thailand on
Friday and is likely to visit Ranong to discuss the border dispute, Thai
official sources said.