lunes, 23 de marzo de 2009

Thai FM to visit Myanmar to discuss refugees

Thailand's foreign minister will visit Myanmar to discuss the issue of illegal migrants who regularly land on the kingdom's southern shores, an official statement said on Saturday.

Kasit Piromya will depart for a two-day official visit to Myanmar on Sunday and pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister General Thein Sein in the country's remote capital Naypyidaw.

He will also meet his counterpart Nyan Win.

They will discuss a broad range of bilateral issues including the large numbers of minority Muslim Rohingya people from Myanmar who regularly flee for Thailand claiming they are persecuted, the statement said.

Thailand's military are accused of cruelly mistreating Rohingya migrants by binding their arms and towing them out to sea with scant supplies.

Migrants have testified to the abuse while international media have published photographs claiming to provide further evidence of it.

Thailand has denied the claims and says the problem of illegal immigration must be tackled regionally.

"(The talks will include) the issue of illegal migrant workers and anti-human trafficking," the statement said.

"Moreover, the foreign minister will consult with the Myanmar leadership... on cooperation with the Myanmar side to address the Bengalis/Rohingyas issue."

The statement said the bilateral talks would also discuss combating illegal drug trafficking, as well as transportation infrastructure projects.

Kasit survived a vote of no confidence along with Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and four other ministers on Saturday.

His appointment to the foreign post had been controversial because of his support for protesters who forced the closure of Bangkok's airports last year.