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Myanmar shuts major border checkpoint with Thailand

Myanmar has completely shut a major border checkpoint with Thailand amid a dispute over construction of a river dyke, Thai officials said today.

world Updated: Jul 20, 2010 17:19 IST

Myanmar has completely shut a major border checkpoint with Thailand amid a dispute over construction of a river dyke, Thai officials said on Tuesday.

Myanmar had already prevented vehicles using the Friendship Bridge linking the town of Mae Sot in northwest Thailand with Myawaddy in eastern Myanmar, and since the weekend has also stopped people crossing on foot.

"Myanmar has completely sealed off the checkpoint since Sunday," Mae Sot district chief Kittisak Tomornsak told reporters by telephone. "Now we have stopped building the dyke."

The closure has affected traders using the bridge, although many Myanmar migrants cross the porous border illegally.

Myanmar is believed to be unhappy with the construction of embankments on the Thai side of the Moei River because they can cause erosion on its side.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had planned a visit to Myanmar in early August but the trip has been postponed, government spokesman Panitan Watanayagorn said, adding that the delay was not connected to the border issue.

"It's possible that the visit might be delayed beyond August because Myanmar has not yet set the exact date," he said, adding that Thailand had complied with international standards in the construction of the artificial riverbank.