Xi pledges to support Myanmar peace talks
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to support Myanmar's peace process yesterday as he met with the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Beijing ahead of historic talks with armed groups near the countries' troubled joint border.
During the sitdown between the leaders Xi pledged to "play a constructive role in promoting Myanmar's peace process" the official Xinhua news agency reported.
"China attaches great importance to developing relations with Myanmar," Xi said, according to an official statement.
Myanmar will hold a long-planned conference with armed ethnic groups later this month, with Suu Kyi targeting peace as a prelude to rebooting the economy after her party won a landslide election victory.
"As a good neighbour, China will do everything possible to promote our peace process," Suu Kyi told reporters in Beijing ahead of meeting China's President Xi Jinping.
China's goodwill was particularly important as the two countries share "a very important border along which there are many ethnic armed groups;" she added.
Several complex ethnic conflicts -- with some groups fighting the government for decades -- simmer across Myanmar's poor and militarised borderlands, hampering efforts to build up the country's economy after the end of junta rule.
Some of the groups have ethnic and cultural links to the neighbouring Chinese province of Yunnan, and the porous border is notorious for trade in drugs, arms and precious stones.
"If you ask me what my most important aim is for my country, that is to achieve peace and unity among the different peoples of our union," Suu Kyi said. "Without peace, there can be no sustained development".