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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi meets China counterpart as FM debut

epa05238721 Myanmars new Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (C) leaves the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 01 April 2016. Suu Kyi also holds the post of minister of the president's office, minister of education and minister of electric power and energy, all awarded by her longtime ally and Myanmar President Htin Kyaw.  EPA/HEIN HTET

Yangon / AFP

Myanmar foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi met her Chinese counterpart in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, an official said, as relations with Beijing take centre stage in the first diplomatic foray of her newly installed pro-democracy government.
The Southeast Asian nation sees its giant neighbour—and largest trading partner—as its biggest foreign policy preoccupation with border wars and controversial Beijing-backed mega-projects topping the agenda.
Myanmar’s new civilian administration, sworn-in on March 30, faces a cascade of economic challenges as it inherits the poor nation from the military.
Suu Kyi, the country’s democracy figurehead who holds the post of foreign minister, invited China’s Wang Yi for talks in the capital.
An information ministry official confirmed to AFP that the meeting had begun Tuesday afternoon, without giving further details. Chinese state media also confirmed Wang’s two-day visit.
Beijing was instrumental in shielding Myanmar’s former junta from the full effects of international opprobrium during an era when Suu Kyi languished for years under house arrest.
Chinese firms enjoyed a host of juicy business deals with Myanmar’s former generals and their cronies that were often deeply controversial and seen as exploiting the impoverished nation’s rich natural resources.
Analysts say both nations seek to rebalance the relationship following Myanmar’s historic November elections that saw millions of voters take to the polls to end the military’s half century domination.
“China should be a foreign policy priority for Myanmar, and vice versa. The new government recognises China’s importance, but will also be keen to recalibrate aspects of the two countries’ relations,” said Nyantha Maw Lin, of advisory firm Vriens and Partners.

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