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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Thai-Burmese border set to reopen
Thai-Burmese border
The two sides' border has been shut since May
Burma's Foreign Minister Win Aung has said his country's border with Thailand - shut since a diplomatic row in May - will be reopened.

Win Aung made the announcement following what he described as "friendly and fruitful" talks with his Thai opposite number, Surakiart Sathirathai, and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


Because we live in the same region, share the same culture, we don't want to see any conflict

Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung
Win Aung gave no date for the re-opening, but said that trade would resume along the border "in a few weeks".

Burma closed its border with Thailand on 22 May after the Thai army fired shells into Burma during a battle between the Burmese army and ethnic Shan rebels.

Thailand said its forces opened fire only when the fighting spilled over the border, but Burma accused them of trying to aid the rebels.

Common ground

Win Aung said that Burma did not want conflict with Thailand "because we live in the same region, share the same culture".

Mr Surakiart said a Thai foreign ministry delegation would visit the Burmese capital, Yangon, next week to work on the details of the border agreement.

Win Aung, Burmese Foreign Minister
Win Aung: The border could re-open "in weeks"

He said the talks with Win Aung had also focused on co-operating in the fight against illegal drugs and the repatriation of 500,000 Burmese illegally working in Thailand.

The Thai foreign minister added that his counterpart had reassured Prime Minister Thaksin that dialogue with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was progressing.

Earlier, Win Aung told reporters: "There are people who are meeting with her. I am not the one who is meeting her but they are our people."

Damaging row

The diplomatic row between Burma and Thailand sparked a flurry of protests and crippled bilateral trade.

Burmese newspapers carried a number of articles in the wake of the border clash which were seen as critical of the Thai monarchy.

In an effort to repair that damage, Win Aung had a royal audience with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who has been invited to pay an official visit to Burma this year.

Last month, in another bridge-building exercise, Mr Surakiart travelled to Rangoon to try to ease the tension. Afterwards he said relations between the two sides had "normalised".

See also:

06 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
25 Feb 02 | Country profiles
05 Jun 02 | Country profiles
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