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Thai-Myanmar relations returning to normal, Thaksin says.

YANGON, June 20 Kyodo

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ended a two-day visit to Yangon and expressed confidence relations between Thailand and Myanmar are back on a normal track.

''I can say that this was a historic meeting where we have reached common understanding that we are now moving toward the end of our sour relations and toward prosperity and peace,'' Thaksin told reporters before leaving Myanmar on Wednesday.

''I'd like to say that from now on relations between Thailand and Myanmar will go back to its former best point and will continue to develop even more,'' he said.

Thaksin was in Myanmar at a time when mistrust and suspicion between the two countries had reached a nadir. Relations soured after border disputes and clashes between troops followed by a war of words in which each accused the other of threatening security.

But after talking to Myanmar junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, Thaksin said the issues causing the poor relations ''were just a tiny thing.''

''We have to look forward. Western countries have gone so fast and it seems silly that we're still fighting about border line...I insist that I will not accept any policies that cause mistrust and suspicion between us,'' he said.

Illicit narcotics are at the core of relations between the two countries, with Thailand demanding Myanmar end the influx of drugs through minorities along the border.

Thailand alleges Myanmar supports narcotics production while Myanmar accuses Thailand of supporting antijunta minority guerrillas.

During the visit, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in suppressing drug traffic along their border, saying mutual cooperation is the most effective means to overcome the menace.

Myanmar also agreed to join an antinarcotics dialogue with Thailand, China and Laos that is expected to soon in China's southern city Kunming.

The two countries also agreed to normalize border crossings, with Myanmar agreeing to open the Tachilek-Mae Sai bridge checkpoint within a week.

Myanmar closed the checkpoint linking the two border towns in February after an outbreak of border clashes. The closure is estimated to have prevented cross-border trade worth $1 million a day.

Thaksin said relations are now back to normal and Myanmar has invited Thailand's King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit to visit while Myanmar junta chief Than Shwe has accepted an invitation to visit Thailand.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jun 23, 2001
Words:386
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