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Burma ties still good, assures PM
- Subject: Burma ties still good, assures PM
- From: ausgeo@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 04:01:00
Date: 24 Apr 1997
Publication: The Nation
Burma ties still good, assures PM
THAI leaders yesterday joined several regional countries in playing down the
impact of the US economic sanctions on Burma, saying Thailand and Asean would
not deviate from their policy and relations with the Southeast Asian nation.
Prime Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who plans to make an official visit
to Burma early next month, strongly defended the Burmese junta, saying that
the regime, which is widely criticised by the West for its poor human rights
record, has no plan to stay in power forever.
n Related reports: A8
He urged the world community to be patient and said that as ''a good friend
and well-wisher" of Burma he will try to convince Burmese junta leaders of the
He said he believed the generals in the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc) ''will listen to me because we are friends".
The former Army chief said he is ''fully confident" that ''the Burmese [Slorc]
are good people" and said his close contact with them had shown him that they
are ''more devout Buddhists than us [Thai people]".
''They [Slorc] also adhere strictly to good ethics and morals, so I don't
think they think of staying in power forever. One day, when they bring peace
to the country, the overall situation [in Burma] will then improve to the
level that the international community wants to see. Please be patient,"
''As a well-wisher and an old-time friend, I intend to talk [to the Slorc].
They will certainly listen to me because we're old friends. Everything should
be fine," he added.
The premier said the US sanctions will not affect foreign investments already
He added that Thai investment projects with its western neighbour will carry
on unaffected because the two countries still maintain diplomatic relations.
Chavalit said Asean's decision at the informal summit last December to welcome
Burma, Cambodia and Laos simultaneously into the grouping remains unchanged,
and that the regional club will meet and announce the timing of their entry at
a later stage.
The three prospective members are preparing themselves for integration into
the group and the US understands Asean's independent stance on the new
memberships, he said, adding that Thailand still adhered to the Asean policy
of constructive engagement with Burma.
Chavalit, who is also defence minister, said he is awaiting a response from
Slorc as to his scheduled visit to Burma on May 3 and 4. Foreign Ministry
Permanent Secretary Saroj Chavanaviraj will leave today for Rangoon to prepare
for the premier's trip.
Deputy Prime Minister Amnuay Viravan and Commerce Minister Narongchai
Akrasanee yesterday echoed Chavalit's views, saying they believed the US
sanctions will not have an impact on Thailand, Thai investment in Burma or
Burma's membership in Asean.
Amnuay said he did not know yet if the US ban on new American investments in
Burma will affect some foreign joint ventures or multinational projects
already in Burma such as the controversial Yadana natural gas project of which
Unocal is one of the operators.
He said the sanctions might make some US competitors such as Japan happy
because they could now take over US economic interests in Burma.
The deputy premier said it is possible that Thai investors also might replace
their American counterparts because the economic prospects for foreign
investors in Burma are good.
According to Narongchai, trade and investment between Burma and Thailand are
proceeding uninterrupted and the US has not applied any pressure on Thailand
to cease its activities there.
Industry Minister Korn Dabaransi said yesterday that he had yet to study the
US sanctions to see who really said what and who will enact the tough
He said he believed the Yadana project, which will supply natural gas to
Thailand, will not be affected by the sanctions since the sale agreement was
between the Thai government and Slorc.