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Myanmar denies trying to obtain N Korean nukes

world Updated: Jan 31, 2012 10:12 IST
AFP
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Myanmar President Thein Sein has denied his country is trying to obtain nuclear weapons from North Korea, describing allegations of an illicit programme as "unfounded", in remarks published Tuesday.

"We are not acquiring nuclear weapons from North Korea," the Straits Times quoted him as saying in an interview during a four-day state visit to Singapore.

"These allegations are unfounded and based on suspicion by some Western countries."

A 2010 United Nations report accused Pyongyang of supplying banned nuclear and ballistic equipment to Myanmar, Iran and Syria.

In a landmark visit to Myanmar in December, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton called on the country to sever "illicit ties" with Pyongyang to foster better relations with Washington.

Clinton said that Thein Sein had given "strong assurances" that Myanmar would abide by United Nations resolutions under which weapons exports from North Korea are banned.

The leader's latest reassurance comes amid a raft of political reforms in Myanmar that have surprised international observers, although the West is demanding deeper changes.

Thein Sein -- an ex-general who became president at the head of a nominally civilian government last year -- promised during his visit to Singapore to establish a "healthy democracy" in Myanmar.

"We have turned a new page in our country in order to create better conditions in Myanmar," the former member of Myanmar's feared junta said at a state banquet held by Singapore leaders Monday.

"We want to give a brighter future for our people."

"We want our people to take part in the democratic reform process and we want democracy to thrive in Myanmar. I wish to assure you that I shall endeavour to establish a healthy democracy in Myanmar."

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