Russian company signs deal with Burma for gold exploration

Feb 16, 2008 (AP), A Russian company has signed an agreement with Burma’s military government to search for gold in northwestern Burma, state-run media reported Saturday.

Russia’s Victorious Glory International Pte. Ltd. signed the agreement with Burmese officials Friday, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported. It said the deal allowed for gold and other mineral exploration along the Uru River, but it did not elaborate on the details of the agreement.

Areas along the Uru River in Burma’s northwestern Sagaing division and northern Kachin state are known to have rich deposits of gold and other minerals.

Unlike most Western countries, which slam Burma’s human rights record and its failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government, Russia has been relatively friendly toward the junta.

A political crisis in Burma attracted world attention last September when Buddhist monks led the biggest anti-government protests the country had seen in two decades. The government cracked down sharply and at least 31 people were killed according to a United Nations investigator, whose tally was much higher than the toll acknowledged by the junta. Thousands were detained.

At the time, Russia ‚ like China ‚ used its veto power at the UN Security Council to oppose any UN sanctions against the junta, saying that how Burma dealt with the pro-democracy protests was an internal issue.

Russia also supplies Burma with arms, and Rosatom, the Russian federal atomic energy agency, signed a deal last May to build a nuclear research center in the Southeast Asian country.

Many Western countries either ban or discourage investment in Burma as a way of pressuring its ruling junta.

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