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Thai PM downplays comments on Burme

Subject: Thai PM downplays comments on Burmese counterpart

Thai PM downplays comments on Burmese counterpart

11:37 a.m. Apr 21, 1997 Eastern 

NAKORN RATCHASIMA, Thailand, April 21 (Reuter) - Thailand's prime minister
Yongchaiyudh on Monday downplayed comments he made over the weekend that his
counterpart General Than Shwe may resign soon. 

He also told reporters during a visit to the outskirts of Bangkok that he
would be visiting Rangoon
for two days from May 3-4. 

``My counterpart will definitely be his excellency (General) Than Shwe,''
Chavalit told reporters as
he appeared to play down earlier remarks that the top Burmese general was
about to quit. 

Chavalit had told reporters that the imminent resignation of Than Swe, head
of Burma's ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), was hampered by problems with a
reshuffle in the
lower level Burmese military hierarchy. 

Burma, which is set to join the Association of Southeast Asean Nations
(ASEAN) in July along
with Laos and Cambodia, has has been fraught with image problems as it
continues to curb the
pro-democracy movement led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. 

ASEAN groups Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam
and Brunei. 

Chavalit's weekend comments on Than Shwe had appeared to echo remarks by
some diplomats
and analysts that there may be a split within the SLORC that could lead to a
restructuring of the
Burmese leadership. 

Than Shwe is considered a moderate leader within the SLORC, diplomats said. 

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