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Friendly signs from Rangoon; Newsp

June 1, 2001

THAI-BURMESE RELATIONS: Friendly signs from Rangoon;
Newspaper article could hasten visit

Burma's New Light of Myanmar changed its tune yesterday, praising
Their Majesties the King and Queen, whose historical trip to Burma in
1960 helped strengthen bilateral ties.

The move is seen as a positive gesture for Bangkok and is expected to
help bring about an early visit to Rangoon by Prime Minister Thaksin

He wants to salvage the diplomatic ties threatened by a recent spate of
border conflicts in the North.

The state-run daily, which criticised two late Thai monarchs for their 
of Western colonisation in the mid-1800s, and angered the Foreign Ministry,
was full of praise for Their Majesties in its edition yesterday.

"This is the first positive sign from Burma that could help speed up Mr
Thaksin's trip.

"The visit is likely to be made in early June if arrangements can be
settled by the government's advance team," said a political source.

Gen Vichit Yathip, chief of the defence minister's staff officers, told
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh of the development and
a copy of the article was faxed to the prime minister.

Some advisers had opposed plans, mooted this week, to speed up
Mr Thaksin's trip, unless there were positive signs from Rangoon.

"The premier was urged to be cautious in moving up his visit to
Rangoon," the source said.

Speaking before he was told of the newspaper article yesterday,
Mr Thaksin was non-committal on whether he would speed up his visit.

"I don't want to discuss it in detail, especially when it deals with national
security," Mr Thaksin said. The government wanted good border
co-operation and believed tensions would soon ease.

The prime minister said he would visit Rangoon after arrangements were
worked out.

However, sources say the omens are good.

"Once a positive sign is transmitted directly from Burma, the premier will
decide when he will make his move. Now we have this sign," a source said.

In an article called "Placing loving kindness", Ma Tin Win said she wrote
the two previous offending articles because she wanted to rebut "slanderous"
accusations against the Burmese.

She recalled fond memories of a visit by Their Majesties to Burma in 1960.

She wrote: "The news photo of the King and Queen offering meals to the
eminent monks of Myanmar enhanced the view that we were of the same
Buddhist faith and aroused our loving kindness towards the country."
Ma Tin Win said her admired book collection included Maha Janaka, a
book written by the King to cherish perseverance.

She said she read the book with much devotion.

"It is obvious in the concluding parts of the book that the King has
wished to clean all the filth in the social, education and cultural spheres
of Siam with the teachings of Buddha."

"After reading the book, my respect for the King has been further enhanced."