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NEWS UPDATES 4 April 2010

Vietnam PM explores business opportunities in Myanmar

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Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has met with Myanmar's military leader and signed economic pacts during a visit ahead of a regional summit in Hanoi, AFP quoted state media as saying Saturday.

Senior General Than Shwe and other military figures welcomed Dung to Myanmar's administrative capital Naypyidaw on Friday, but it was unclear if the Vietnamese premier raised the thorny issue of upcoming elections in Myanmar.

"The two sides exchanged views on further cementing of the friendly relations between the two countries and promotion of economic cooperation," said an editorial in the state-run daily "New Light of Myanmar".

"They also frankly exchanged views on international and regional issues," the newspaper said.

Seven contracts and joint agreements were signed during the visit, the editorial said, covering investment promotion and various economic sectors including agriculture, finance, communication and mines.

Vietnam's imports and exports to Myanmar totalled less than 100 million dollars last year.

The visit comes ahead of a regional summit in Hanoi on Thursday, which Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein is due to attend.

Myanmar's pledge to hold elections later this year is likely to be a key issue at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Myanmar has imposed severe restrictions on the elections, expected in October or November, including the effective exclusion of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, leading to widespread international condemnation.

Communist Vietnam holds this year's chairmanship of ASEAN and will host a summit of its leaders in Hanoi on April 8.

Philippines' Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo said last week he would urge members of the 10-nation bloc to call at the summit for a reversal of Myanmar's decree governing the elections.

Dung arrived in Myanmar on Friday on state-owned Vietnam Airlines, which this month began a direct service between the Vietnamese capital and Myanmar's largest city, Yangon.

A Myanmar official said Dung would meet business leaders in Yangon on Saturday and would visit the famed Shwedagon pagoda on Sunday morning before returning to Hanoi.


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