China says its envoy met Myanmar opposition leader

AP News
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 4:21 AM
China says its envoy met Myanmar opposition leader

China's ambassador to Myanmar has met Aung San Suu Kyi in the first reported meeting between one of the military regime's biggest backers and the high-profile opposition leader.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Thursday that the meeting came at Suu Kyi's request. He would not say when it took place.

"Madam Aung Sang Suu Kyi expressed her hope several times that she could meet with the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, and the ambassador met with her in response to her request and listened to her opinions," Liu told a daily news conference.

The meeting comes amid democratic stirrings in Myanmar that have raised hopes of change after decades of military rule.

Suu Kyi met earlier this month with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose visit raised questions about Myanmar's ties with China.

China and Myanmar have historic ties, but Myanmar pulled back recently from a major dam project sought by its northern neighbor.

Liu repeated that Beijing is committed to a comprehensive partnership between China and Myanmar and backs resource-rich Myanmar's efforts to boost its economic and social development.

Beijing has long provided key diplomatic and economic support for Myanmar, but relations have been strained by fighting between Myanmar's army and rebel groups that has sent refugees into southwestern China.

China was caught off guard by the suspension of the $3.6 billion China-funded Myitsone dam being built by a Chinese company in Myanmar. The suspension was a significant about-face in Myanmar's domestic politics. The project had drawn protests from ethnic and environmental groups.

Liu said that Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Beijing's top foreign policy official, would take part in regional meetings on the Mekong River early next week in Myanmar, and would also have bilateral meetings with Myanmar government officials.