Russia to Work Closer With Myanmar

Russia and Myanmar on Monday agreed to step up a number of partnerships, including in the oil sector, during the highest-ranking visit to Moscow in four decades from the military-ruled nation.

"We are interested in deepening Russia's role in the Asia-Pacific region, and Russian-Burmese ties in this context have good and promising prospects," Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov told journalists after meeting General Maung Aye, the No. 2 general in the military junta that rules Myanmar, formerly called Burma, Itar-Tass reported.

Russia's Zarubezhneft oil company inked a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar's Energy Ministry, one of a number of bilateral documents signed, according to Interfax and Itar-Tass.

Aye called on Russian companies to invest in his country. "We have rubber, gas and oil, and there are many opportunities for cooperation in production," he was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass.

Myanmar wishes to strengthen "the friendly relations between our governments, peoples and armed forces," the general said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also met Monday with his counterpart from Myanmar, Nyan Win. "I feel as if I am visiting my own brother. It is indeed a great pleasure for me to visit the Russian Federation," the Burmese diplomat said.

The Foreign Ministry said the two had discussed the importance of a regular dialogue on international and regional problems and interest in cultivating cooperation in fighting terrorism and drug-trafficking.

Win accompanied Aye, who is paying a four-day visit to Russia. He is the highest-ranking leader to visit Russia since a trip by late Myanmar dictator General New Win in 1965.

Asian diplomats had said the delegation's visit was expected to focus on a range of military and defense issues, but the Russian Foreign Ministry made no mention of them.