Myanmar values reputation amid clashes

Aug. 10, 2012 at 1:14 PM

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Religious conflict in Rakhine state shouldn't serve to tarnish the emerging image of Myanmar, the country's president told visiting Turkish diplomats.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu led a delegation of high-ranking officials to Myanmar. Ankara, he said, aims to expand its relationship with the country and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

His visit follows clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar that left at least 78 people dead in Rakhine.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, said at the conclusion of a 6-day visit to the country that the situation in the state was serious. He said he witnessed "widespread suffering" among members of the Muslim and Buddhists communities.

Myanmar President Thein Sein said issues in the region shouldn't "tarnish the positive image of Myanmar," reports state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar.

Myanmar's government said Davutoglu agreed to contribute $50 million in humanitarian assistance to the state. The president added the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was invited to visit Rakhine to witness the situation firsthand.

"The government has maintained the situation in time and kept it under control," the newspaper stated.

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