FM crams for test­ing China trip

For­eign Min­is­ter Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is pre­par­ing for pos­si­ble tough ques­tions over the My­it­sone dam project and the coun­try’s peace process dur­ing her visit to Bei­jing later this week.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - thanhtoo@mm­times.com HTOO THANT – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

FOR­EIGN Min­is­ter Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to be por­ing over her brief­ing books to­day as she pre­pares for what could be a test­ing visit to China from Au­gust 17 to 20. Two is­sues in par­tic­u­lar are likely to be on the agenda: the fu­ture of the sus­pended My­it­sone dam project and the peace process, both of more than pass­ing in­ter­est to Bei­jing.

U Kyaw Zeya, direc­tor gen­eral of the po­lit­i­cal de­part­ment un­der the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, briefed re­porters on Au­gust 12 on the govern­ment’s achieve­ments over the past 100 days in for­eign af­fairs, elec­tric­ity and en­ergy, and bor­der af­fairs.

“We won’t know what China is go­ing to say un­til we get there. But if they raise th­ese mat­ters, we will have a re­sponse pre­pared,” he said. The Chi­nese have a ma­jor stake in the My­it­sone is­sue, hav­ing been in­volved with it for the past 10 years.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi raised the topic of My­it­sone when he met with his Myan­mar coun­ter­part in Nay Pyi Taw in April. At that time, Myan­mar made no re­sponse, ac­cord­ing to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s own brief­ing to the me­dia.

U Kyaw Zeya said, “China will raise the sub­ject be­cause it is of ma­jor in­ter­est to them. We’re still dis­cussing what we should do about the project. If the Chi­nese raise it, we will dis­cuss it. We have pre­pared a re­sponse.”

The govern­ment has now formed a com­mis­sion to con­sult with lo­cal res­i­dents and oth­ers, and to make rec­om­men­da­tions as to how to pro­ceed (see re­lated story be­low right).

The elec­tric­ity and en­ergy min­istry’s per­ma­nent sec­re­tary U Htain Lwin said the project awaited a res­o­lu­tion. “The dam project was sus­pended by the pre­vi­ous govern­ment fol­low­ing pop­u­lar ob­jec­tions on the grounds of its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. Any de­ci­sion to can­cel the agree­ment must be taken at the na­tional level,” he said.

Ob­servers will also fol­low with in­ter­est any dis­cus­sion with China on Myan­mar’s peace process. The coun­try’s long bor­der with Myan­mar makes the sta­bil­ity of its south­ern neigh­bour a mat­ter of great im­por­tance, prompt­ing Bei­jing to send ob­servers to Myan­mar’s peace talks. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be pre­pared to dis­cuss the mat­ter with her hosts, said U Kyaw Zeya.

Asked why the for­eign min­is­ter de­cided to visit China be­fore vis­it­ing the United States, he said she had made her de­ci­sion on the ba­sis of op­tions pro­posed by the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs.

“We sub­mit­ted our sug­ges­tions and she made her de­ci­sion. We take our re­la­tions with neigh­bour­ing coun­tries very se­ri­ously,” he said.

The for­eign min­is­ter, who is also state coun­sel­lor, ac­com­pa­nied Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw on a visit to Laos, the ro­tat­ing chair of ASEAN, in April. How­ever, she sat out the pres­i­dent’s visit to the Rus­sia-ASEAN Sum­mit in Rus­sia.

The state coun­sel­lor is sched­uled to visit the United States in Oc­to­ber.

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi shakes hands with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw on April 5.

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