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NEWS UPDATES 10 September 2010

Myanmar thanks China for support

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Myanmar's military leader Than Shwe on Thursday thanked China for its support of his isolated state and pledged to work with Beijing to maintain stability on their sometimes troubled border.

The 77-year-old senior general made the comments in talks with Premier Wen Jiabao -- the last in a series of meetings with top Chinese leaders before he headed to Shanghai to visit the World Expo on Friday.

Than Shwe, whose regime is often criticised in the West for its human rights record and political repression, told Wen he "appreciated China's aid and support over the years", according to the Xinhua news agency.

China has long helped to keep Myanmar afloat through trade ties, investments in its large natural resources, arms sales and by shielding it from UN sanctions over rights abuses as a veto-wielding member of the Security Council.

In return, China is assured of a stable neighbour and access to raw materials such as teak and gems from Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962.

Ties frayed last year when fighting between military forces and rebel ethnic armies drove tens of thousands of refugees over the border into China, which issued a rare admonishment to Myanmar.

But Than Shwe told Wen his country would work with China to "jointly maintain peace and stability of the border regions", Xinhua reported.

The military leader arrived in China on Tuesday for a state visit two months ahead of Myanmar's first election in 20 years.

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