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Burmese Head of State Visits India - 2004-10-24


Burma's military ruler is visiting neighboring India, the first such trip by a Burmese head of state in 24 years.

General Than Shwe is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi Monday and the two countries are expected to sign a number of bilateral agreements during the six-day visit.

India is one of only a few countries that maintains close ties with Burma, which is shunned by most democratic nations for its government's harsh treatment of the country's pro-democracy movement, led by detained Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burmese exiles living in the Indian capital held a rally Saturday to protest General Than Shwe's visit.

Critics of India's welcoming the general say it sends the wrong message to the international community and to those in Burma struggling for democracy.

General Than Shwe's trip comes after one week after the ouster of Burma's prime minister, Khin Nhunt, who supported talks with Burma's pro-democracy leaders.

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

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