Burmese President to Visit Seoul

Posted October 5th, 2012 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Burmese President Thein Sein is headed to South Korea, the latest step in an effort to rehabilitate his country's image.

The Burmese leader is expected to travel to Seoul Monday for the start of a three-day visit which will include a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

South Korean spokesperson Lee Mi-Yeon tells VOA economic issues and trade will be a prime focus.

“The two leaders will exchange opinions on ways to cooperate on regional issues in Southeast, Northeast Asia, including the Korean peninsula, and the international stage.”

President Thein Sein also is scheduled to meet with South Korean business leaders.

The United States and other countries have been lifting trade sanctions against Burma in response to reforms by the country's military-backed government, making the resource-rich southeast Asian nation a prime candidate for investment and development.

But trade is not the only item on the agenda.

An official in South Korea's Office of the President, speaking on condition of anonymity, told VOA's Korean Service Mr. Lee will also raise the issue of Burma's military ties to North Korea.

Burma has long been criticized for its suspected military relationship with North Korea. Earlier this year, President Thein Sein said Burma would comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution which prohibits supplying Pyongyang's weapons programs with arms, money, training, or other assistance.

President Thein Sein's trip comes about five months after Mr. Lee became the first South Korean president to visit Burma in almost 30 years.

Before Mr. Lee, the last South Korean president to visit Burma was Chun Doo-hwan, who narrowly

escaped a 1983 assassination attempt in Rangoon by North Korean commandos.