Relations between Thailand and Myanmar are at their most cordial in the history of ties between the two countries, says Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the Defence Services of Myanmar.
Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing expressed this view when he met Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House Tuesday, government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.
Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing is in Thailand to attend the first High Level Committee meeting between senior military officials of the two countries in Bangkok today.
An audio clip of an alleged conversation between former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa on July 6 mentioned Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing.
In the clip, the two men discussed how to make use of Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing to gain favourable treatment from Myanmar on a range of issues.
The men then said that Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing has close ties to the Myanmar government and President Thein Sein.
Mr Teerat said Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing told Ms Yingluck that Myanmar was grateful to Thailand for taking part in the development of democracy in his country.
The general said Myanmar was governed by the military before, but now that the country has turned toward democracy the military’s role has reduced.
He added that Myanmar welcomed Thai businesses to invest in the country and issued an assurance that his country was politically stable.
Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing said civilians now played a greater role in developing Myanmar.
Mr Teerat said the senior Myanmar military officer told Ms Yingluck that the two countries should complete the demarcation of undefined border areas as soon as possible. Ms Yingluck agreed with the suggestion.
As for the Dawei deep-sea port project, Mr Teerat said Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing told the premier that Thein Sein recognised the importance of the project and wanted to cooperate with Thailand in ensuring its success.
Ms Yingluck agreed that the Dawei scheme is a massive infrastructure project and that the two countries will need to cooperate closely to complete it successfully.
Once the project is completed, it would significantly boost investors’ confidence in the two countries.
Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing said the Myanmar president also wanted to work closely with Bangkok in solving the problem of illegal migrant workers in Thailand.
Mr Teerat said Ms Yingluck told Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing that she wanted to see the two countries develop border areas through a cash crop plantation project and cross-border trade.
This article first appeared in the Bangkok Post on September 18, 2013.