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Jan 10, 2008 (DVB), Recent visits by Chinese and Russian agricultural experts to the coastal areas of Tenasserim division have been met with suspicion by the Karen National Union.
A commander from the Karen National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the KNU, said that one Russian and two South African nationals had arrived at Maw Taung camp on the Thai-Burma border on 6 January, while three Chinese experts arrived at I-wine village in Tavoy township the following day.
They were accompanied by heavy government security and staff from Burmese tycoon Tayza’s Htoo Trading Company and the Yuzana Business Group owned by U Htay Myint.
The experts had reportedly come to the area to inspect palm oil plantations, but U Htay Aung, a military analyst on the Thai-Burma border, did not believe people from these countries would have the necessary expertise.
"Russians are not experts in palm oil plantations," U Htay Aung said.
"The plantations could get experts from Malaysia instead who are well-respected in this kind of agricultural production."
U Htay Aung said that the visit could be linked to military cooperation between these countries and Burma.
"The government has been relocating villagers in Maw Taung region for some time now and we have heard they are going to build a regional defence center in this location," U Htay Aung said.
"The junta bought a couple of Mig-29 fighter jets from Russia in 2002 as well as rocket missiles and radar equipments," he said.
"We have confirmed information about the government installing this equipment in defence centres built on off-shore islands in Tenasserim division."
Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw