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Sri Lanka and Singapore ministers in Burma

June 8, 2009 (DVB), A senior minister from the Singaporean government today began a four-day visit to Burma while Sri Lankan government sources say that the country's president is soon to "consolidate bilateral relations" with a visit.

Goh Chok Tong, Singapore's former prime minister, will meet with senior Burmese government figures, including Senior General Than Shwe, during the visit on the behest of Prime Minister Thein Sein.

"Mr Goh, who last visited [Burma] in 1998, will use the visit to update himself on developments in the country," said a statement on the Singaporean government website.

Relations between the two countries have in the past been strong, although have come under strain as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, including Singapore, mount criticism on Burma over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Last month Singapore expressed "dismay" over the trial, but said that expelling Burma from ASEAN would achieve nothing.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries by speaking of his intentions to visit Burma.

The ColomboPage newspaper reported that he talked of strengthening ties between the two countries, following Burma's donation of $US50,000 to victims of the recent Sri Lankan offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels.

"My visit to the Union of Myanmar this month and the numerous other activities planned to take place in our two countries as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations will further consolidate our bilateral relations," he said.

Reporting by Francis Wade


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