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Thai PM Returns from Surprise Burma Visit, Offers No Details on Talks


Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has made a brief visit to Burma where he met with head of state, Senior General Than Shwe.

Mr. Thaksin returned from the one-day visit late Wednesday. The trip had not been announced in advance.

He told reporters in Bangkok his talks with Burma's military rulers covered social issues, economics, and politics, but the prime minister said
he could not discuss any details.

Mr. Thaksin responded, "I don't know," when asked if he and General Than Shwe discussed Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for most of the last 16 years.

Thailand's army chief and several cabinet members accompanied Mr. Thaksin on his visit to Burma's new administrative capital, Naypyidaw. The army chief General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin says he plans to return to Burma for further discussions on military cooperation.

The Burmese government has not commented on the meeting.

Mr. Thaksin is the highest ranking official to visit Burma's new administrative center in Naypyidaw, located in the jungles some 400 kilometers north of Rangoon. Thailand is a major investor in Burma.

The Thai leader's trip comes as Burma's Asian neighbors and the West increase pressure on the government to speed up democratic reforms and free Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won elections in 1990, but Burma's military rulers refused to relinquish power. The Burmese government has promised democratic reforms, but progress is slow.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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