China urgers closer Myanmar military ties

Nov. 28, 2011 at 11:18 PM

BEIJING, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, meeting with Myanmar's military chief, urged deeper military cooperation, China's official news agency Xinhua reported.

The China trip by Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar defense services, comes ahead of the planned state visit this week to Myanmar, formerly called Burma, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Xi, in line to succeed Hu Jintao as China's next president and general secretary of the Communist party, received Min Aung Hlaing in Beijing Monday. Xi currently is also vice chairman of China's Central Military Committee.

Xi proposed the two military forces enhance exchange and deepen cooperation to contribute to bilateral ties.

"The friendship, forged by leaders of the older generations, has endured changes in the international arena," Xi said.

He said China will always support Myanmar's efforts in preserving national unity, promoting economic development and improving people's livelihoods.

"China will work with Myanmar to further bolster the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation," he said.

Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying the armed forces of the two countries share traditional friendship and new opportunities, and pledged to strengthen military exchanges and cooperation with China.

Myanmar, which had been under brutal military rule for decades, now has a civilian government led by President Thein Sein.

The new government has made some changes, including the suspension of a China-aided hydroelectric dam project under public protest, freeing about 200 political prisoners and changing the rules to allow leaders such as democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi to participate in politics.

The changes encouraged U.S. President Barack Obama to ask Clinton to visit Myanmar.

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