Thu 31 Aug 2006
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Vladimir Villegas, a special envoy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has made a rare diplomatic visit to Burma on behalf of the South American country, meeting with Prime Minister Soe Win and Foreign Minister Nyan Win in Naypyidaw, state-run The New Light of Myanmar reported on Thursday.
Villegas continued on to Rangoon and was due to leave Burma on Friday, sources said. He was unavailable for comment on the visit, as was the Burmese Foreign Ministry. The substance of discussions between both sides is not known. The visit represents a rare diplomatic interaction between Burma and Venezuela. Neither country maintains an embassy in the other. Venezuela also has no mission in neighboring Thailand.
In May, Chavez was questioned on alleged links between Venezuela and Burma by UK daily newspaper The Guardian, to which he replied: â€œThat is the first time I have heard about Burma-they say I support [Osama] Bin Laden or ETA (the Basque separatists group), but never Burma,â€ he said, adding that such stories were usually designed to undermine him.
A well-known critic of the US, Chavez has famously met many of the leaders of countries labeled â€œoutposts of tyrannyâ€ by Washington-including Cuba, Belarus and Iran-as part of his quest to build an alliance against what he deems imperialist actions by the US and its allies. Villegas has been similarly controversial in the eyes of Washington.
Last year he was expelled from Mexico as the then ambassador following a diplomatic row between the two countries after Chavez accused conservative Mexican President Vicente Fox of being under the control of the Bush administration.