Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi visits Myanmar in SE Asia tour, promises vaccines

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YANGON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed closer cooperation with Myanmar and promised vaccines against COVID-19, state-run television said on Monday, after he arrived on the first stop of a five-day tour of Southeast Asia.

Wang met President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of the government whose National League for Democracy (NLD) was returned to power in November with a second successive landslide election victory.

Wang is scheduled to meet army chief Min Aung Hlaing in the capital Naypyitaw on Tuesday before moving on to Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

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Wang and Myanmar officials discussed border security, regional cooperation and China's roles in brokering peace in Myanmar and in the potential repatriation of Rohingya refugees, Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) said.

Wang also promised Myanmar 300,000 doses of a Chinese vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

China is the second largest investor in Myanmar and wants to speed up mega-projects launched under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijing plays a crucial role in peace negotiations between Myanmar's army and ethnic armed groups based along the border.

It has also sought to speed up the return of Muslim Rohingya refugees from camps in Bangladesh, and has shielded its neighbour from accusations at the United Nations that it committed genocide against the Muslim minority.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017 after a military crackdown that United Nations investigators have said was executed with genocidal intent - an accusation that Myanmar denies.

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Reporting by Sam Aung Moon; Writing by Poppy McPherson; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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