Visiting burma pm offered help

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday offered assistance for Burma's coming constitutional referendum to his visiting counterpart Thein Sein, who is unlikely to accept it.

Thein Sein arrived in Bangkok yesterday for his first official visit since he took the post in October. Bilateral issues will make up the bulk of his agenda and the Thai prime minister is unlikely to comment on political developments in junta-ruled Burma.

"I don't think I should say anything on the matter otherwise I will be accused of being Burma's mouthpiece. What I know is that Burma will have a national referendum to endorse the new constitution on May 10 and a general election within the next two years," he said.

The military will withdraw from politics and allow at least three political parties to run in the election, he said. "After the election, Burma will be similar to Thailand 30 years ago, a quasi-democracy," he said.

Samak said he would offer the Burmese help in the referendum if requested.

Thailand offered Thein Sein a warm welcome yesterday as the prime minister hosted an informal dinner at his private residence with Thai food cooked by Samak himself.

The two leaders will have an official meeting on bilateral ties today at Government House. Economic cooperation including transport links between the countries is high on the agenda.

The Nation