Thailand warns natuonals against Myanmar travel

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Bangkok, Sep 26 (UNI) Authorities in Thailand have urged nationals to put off any scheduled travel to Myanmar as reports came in of a military crackdown on protesting monks in Yangon today.

The Thai Defence Minister today postponed his official visit to Myanmar where he was scheduled to meet the ruling junta chief General Than Shwe.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said the minister would travel to Myanmar only after normalcy was restored there.

Meanwhile, former Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan who has been chosen the next Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed hope that the mass protests inside Myanmar could become a catalyst for the long-delayed political reconciliation there.

According to reports from the former Myanmar capital Yangon where tens of thousands of people have come out on the streets behind Buddhist monks in recent days, five people, including monks, were killed when troops opened fire on the protestors today.

A large number of monks were among the scores of people arrested today in Yangon.

Myanmarese pro-democracy campaigners living in self-exile in Thailand today urged the Thai government and international community to be prepared for a likely influx of large numbers of refugees from Myanmar into Thailand.

Thailand's internal security agency, the Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) today ordered its regional commander on the Thai-Myanmar border closely monitor the emerging situation in Myanmar.

Speaking in New York at the UN General Assembly, former Thai Foreign Minister Surin said the protests in Yangon could succeed in triggering political change.

''We do hope in Asean that things will not get out of hand, will not become too violent, but would lead to some kind of a congregation, some kind of change,'' he said.

According to Mr Surin, the ongoing street protests in Myanmar were different from those seen in the past as these were being led by the highly respected Buddhist clergy.

UNI

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