By Ko Htwe
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will make her second trip to Burma today since coming to office, and is scheduled for talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday evening.
The Puea Thai Party leader is due to attend the 4th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit in Naypyidaw, to where she’ll fly from Bangkok late this afternoon for the two-day meeting. Her subsequent rendezvous with Suu Kyi will be the first time the two women come face to face.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party is yet to make an announcement about the meeting, although it was independently confirmed by Central Executive Committee member Khun Thar Myint.
Yingluck will also meet with President Thein Sein, with whom she held discussions during her last visit in October. She will be flanked by foreign affairs minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and energy minister Pichai Naripthaphan.
Thailand relies on Burma for around 30 percent of its energy needs, particularly natural gas. The Nation newspaper reported that Thai cabinet members attending the GMS summit will hold separate meetings with Burma to discuss energy.
Yingluck’s older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, stopped over in Burma last week en route to Nepal, according to the Bangkok Post. Thaksin’s warm ties with the former junta in Burma sullied Thailand’s foreign policy reputation, but analysts say the change of leadership in both countries could point to more progressive relations.
Business looks set to remain at the top of the list of bilateral priorities, however, particularly with the construction of the massive Tavoy deep-sea port in southern Burma, which will be linked to Thialand and other regional countries and looks set to spur trade between Southeast Asian economies and the west.