BEIJING (AP) — China's Foreign Ministry says Myanmar has apologized for a cross-border bombing last month in which four Chinese farmers were killed, an incident that injected rare tensions into generally good relations between the neighbors.
A statement on the ministry's website said Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin expressed regret over the incident in a meeting in Beijing on Thursday. It quoted him as saying that Myanmar accepted the findings of a joint investigation into the March 13 bombing and will discuss compensation for the victims.
"Myanmar will punish those responsible according to the law and strengthen internal management to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in future," Wunna Maung Lwin was quoted as saying. "Myanmar is willing to join with China to strengthen stability in the border area."
The incident came during an upsurge in fighting between Myanmar government soldiers and ethnic Kokang rebels in Myanmar's northeast near the border with China.
Myanmar presidential spokesman Ye Htut confirmed the Beijing meeting but declined to comment on the Chinese statement.
"We have officially expressed our regrets about the casualties, but I am confident that this incident will not affect Myanmar-China friendly relations," Ye Htut told The Associated Press.
Myanmar had originally rejected China's claim that a Myanmar plane dropped a bomb that caused the deaths, although it agreed to the joint investigation. A Myanmar official suggested it could have been the work of a group seeking to create confusion.
The fighting involving ethnic rebels near the border has killed hundreds of Myanmar soldiers and sent thousands of refugees fleeing into China. That has threatened to further upset ties that have been strained in recent years by Myanmar's perceived shift toward the U.S.
Beijing has disavowed any links with the Kokang rebels, saying it respects Myanmar's sovereignty. Myanmar officials have said former Chinese soldiers have trained the rebels, an allegation the insurgents have denied.
Associated Press writer Aye Aye Win in Yangon, Myanmar, contributed to this report.