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Myanmar, Thailand should resolve tensions: official

Myanmar soldiers
Soldiers on the Myanmar Thai border  

YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) -- Myanmar and Thailand should try to resolve their recent border tensions with understanding and goodwill, a Myanmar government official has told CNN.

"We want good relations with Thailand," Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win said in an exclusive interview Saturday.

"We do not want our relations to deteriorate," he added.

The Deputy Minister was referring to heightened tensions along the Myanmar-Thai border that saw the two countries' armies exchange fire earlier this month.

Since then tensions between the neighbors appear to have remained high, with each side building up it's military personnel and weapons along the contentious part of the border.

Khin Maung Win blamed the flare up on a third party, the Shan State Army (SSA).

The Shan are an ethnic minority who have been fighting for autonomy from Myanmar for decades. Yangon accuses the SSA of using the Myanmar-Thai border as a refuge and staging area.

"They are operating at the border and sometimes, if I may say very openly -- sometimes from across the border," the deputy minister said.

"This is, as we see it, the core of the problem at the moment," he added.

Thailand denies it gives sanctuary to or cooperates with the SSA.

border security
Security is tight at the border with Thailand  

The Myanmar spokesman played down the strained relations with Thailand, saying: "I would not say our border is at the moment very tense."

He also denied Thai accusations of Myanmar military incursions across the border and reports in Thailand that further breaches might provoke war.

"We are not going to intrude into Thailand," he said. "We are not going to because this is the consistent policy of our government."

Thailand says Myanmar shells and gunfire killed several civilians in the Thai border town of Mae Sai in early February.

Myanmar says shells and gunfire "from the other side" killed three civilians in the Myanmar border town Tachilek at the same time.



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