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August 19, 2016

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China, Myanmar agree on dam issue

CHINA and Myanmar yesterday agreed to enhance cooperation to find a proper solution to the suspended Myitsone Dam project in northern Myanmar.

The agreement came during talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who started a five-day official visit to China on Wednesday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after the talks, held at the Great Hall of the People, that Suu Kyi said Myanmar’s new government has decided to set up an investigation committee to find a solution to the Myitsone Dam issue. Li called on the two sides to properly promote major projects including the Myitsone Dam and the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline to improve infrastructure construction and connectivity, according to Liu.

The Myitsone Dam is jointly funded by China and Myanmar, but was suspended by the Myanmar government in 2011.

Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw decided a week ago to form a new commission for reviewing all proposed hydropower projects on the Irrawaddy River, including the Myitsone Dam.

Suu Kyi is the first Myanmar leader to visit China since the Southeast Asian nation’s new government was formed in late March. She visited China in June 2015 as chair of the National League for Democracy.

“Choosing China as the first country to visit outside ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) after taking office as the State Counsellor shows the high importance you and the Myanmar government have attached to relations with China,” Li said to Suu Kyi at the beginning of the talks.

Expressing China’s appreciation, Li spoke highly of the deep “pauk phaw” (“fraternal” in the Myanmar language) friendship between the two countries and said he hopes the visit will help drive development of bilateral ties. China supports Myanmar’s choice of development path and its efforts to promote national reconciliation, economic growth and well-being, Li said. “We are willing to work with Myanmar to consolidate political trust and strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields to promote bilateral ties in the new era.”

The pragmatic cooperation between China and Myanmar will benefit the people of two countries, he said, noting that China is ready to integrate development strategies with Myanmar and plan cooperation in key areas. He called on the two countries to boost cooperation in the economy, trade and agriculture, and to expand exchanges in culture, education and health.

Suu Kyi said the Myanmar-China friendship has a strong foundation among the public. The new government highly values ties with China and is committed to consolidating bilateral relations, said Suu Kyi, who is also foreign minister.

Myanmar will maintain high-level contacts with China, enhance mutual political trust, promote energy ties, expand exchanges in border trade, agriculture, health, education and other areas, maintain stability in border regions and boost people-to-people ties to realize common development, she said.


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