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Security Concerns Kill Thai Prime Minister's Trip To Burma - 2003-12-23


Thailand's prime minister has canceled a planned one-day trip by helicopter to a border region of Burma due to security concerns.

Thaksin Shinawatra had planned to travel with his Burmese counterpart, Khin Nyunt, to an area controlled by Burma's United Wa State Army, which is accused of being heavily involved in the drug trade.

A Thai security team says the situation there is unacceptable, and recommended that the prime minister cancel his planned trip.

The Bangkok Post reports that Lieutenant General Picharnmeth Muangmanee will visit the border region in place of Prime Minister Thaksin. The general is a co-chairman of the Thai-Burmese Joint Border Committee.

The Reuters news agency reports that Burma will now send deputy ministers and an army commander.

Mr. Thaksin was to have visited a Thai-funded hospital and review a program that aims to give farmers incentives to abandon poppy cultivation.

There have been rumors that Burmese drug traffickers were plotting to kill Mr. Thaksin in retaliation for lost business from Thailand's anti-drug campaign.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters.

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