- - Monday, November 28, 2011

CHINA

China, Myanmar vow deeper ties before Clinton visit

BEIJING — China’s leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, met Myanmar’s military chief on Monday and pledged stronger ties, days before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton starts a historic trip to the closed state.

Mrs. Clinton will become the most senior U.S. official to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years when she arrives Wednesday on a trip seen as a bid to advance U.S. priorities in a country that has long enjoyed close ties to China.

Mr. Xi proposed that the nations’ militaries “enhance exchange and deepen cooperation” when he met the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing, in Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

“The friendship, forged by leaders of the older generations, has endured changes in the international arena,” Xinhua quoted Mr. Xi as saying.

China will work with Myanmar to further bolster the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation,” added Mr. Xi, who is widely expected to take over from President Hu Jintao in 2013.

Myanmar and China have long been allies, although the relationship is complicated, with some in the Southeast Asian nation resentful of Beijing’s overwhelming economic influence and historic border conflicts.

Since last year, Myanmar has held elections and freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and recently defied China by shutting down work on an unpopular dam that would supply power across the border.

PAKISTAN

NATO raid undercuts efforts at rapprochement

ISLAMABAD — NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers came just as the difficult relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani militaries was showing signs of improvement.

Only hours earlier, Marine Gen. John Allen, the coalition’s top commander in Afghanistan, and Pakistani army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani concluded a meeting that sought to find common ground, a senior U.S. official told the Associated Press.

The official said the two men discussed areas of cooperation and “basically what we could do for each other.”

Now, Gen. Kayani is under renewed pressure from his rank and file, intelligence sharing has stopped, and Pakistan has withdrawn its offer to nudge the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table.

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