Suu Kyi to Visit Thailand in June

By The Irrawaddy 30 May 2016

RANGOON — Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s state counselor and foreign minister, will visit Thailand in June, according to the President’s Office.

Zaw Htay, the office’s spokesperson, confirmed that the trip would take place next month but said the exact dates of travel are still being negotiated.

Zaw Htay declined to comment on whether Htin Kyaw, Burma’s president, would join Suu Kyi on the trip.

However, inside sources said the trip would be between June 23-25, and that Htin Kyaw would be joining.

In their first trip abroad since the Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) formed a government at the end of March, Htin Kyaw and Suu Kyi flew to Laos in early May. On May 19, Htin Kyaw went to Russia for the 20-year anniversary of the Asean-Russia relationship.

On May 9, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai visited Burma and met with Suu Kyi and Htin Kyaw, a confidant of the NLD leader who effectively serves as her proxy due to constitutional restrictions barring her from the presidency.

Last week, Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing visited Thailand for three days at the invitation of the chief of the Royal Thai Army, Sommai Kaotira. During his visit, Min Aung Hlaing also met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

The neighboring Southeast Asian nations and their citizens have experienced an interesting reversal of political circumstances in recent years. Burma’s government has moved haltingly toward more openness and democracy since 2011, brought into stark relief with last year’s NLD triumph in an election that swept Suu Kyi to power. Thailand, on the other hand, remains under military rule two years after a military coup saw Prayuth seize the levers of power. Freedoms of press and assembly, as well as other forms of dissent, have been sharply curbed by the Thai junta.

Millions of Burmese have sought work in Thailand over the years, while tens of thousands remain in refugee camps along the countries’ shared border, where they fled, some decades ago, from conflict between the Burma Army and ethnic rebel groups, or otherwise sought an escape from oppression under Burma’s former military regime.