Myanmar army chief visits Thailand

25 May 2016
Myanmar army chief visits Thailand
Myanmar Defence Forces Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing greeted by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a meeting at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, 27 August 2015. Photo: Thai government

Myanmar's armed forces commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing kicks off his three-day visit to Thailand today, where he will meet Privy Council president Gen PremTinsulanonda, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and military top brass.
Despite the political transition from military rule to the first elected civilian government in five decades in Myanmar, the general, who earlier this year had his term extended for another five years, is still a powerful figure.
The Thai ruling junta did not give details of the visit, but a military source told the Bangkok Post Min Aung Hlaing is due to meet Supreme Commander SommaiKaotira today, and Gen Prayut and Deputy Prime Minister TanasakPatimapragorn tomorrow.
"His visit signifies our strong bilateral relationship," said the source.
WiratNiyomtam, a Myanmar expert at Naresuan University, said the visit underlines the military's role in national security and border affairs as stated in the constitution.
"While State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi is seen to be close to the Western world, the military is strengthening its ties with armies in Asean," said Mr Wirat.
Earlier this month, Myanmar's President HtinKyaw and Ms Suu Kyi made their first state visit to Laos, for a meeting with Lao President BounnhangVorachith in Vientiane.
Mr Wirat said the visit to Laos, current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, reflected Myanmar's commitment to Asean, but it is unclear whether the military chief's visit also would pave the way for the presidential delegation to come to Thailand.