Myanmar to sign new nuclear safeguards: govt

Myanmar said on Sunday it would agree to new atomic safeguards that allow inspections of suspected clandestine nuclear sites, ahead of a milestone visit by US President Barack Obama.

The news comes hours after the White House said Myanmar has taken "positive steps" to reduce its military relationship with North Korea.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was suspected of pursuing military and nuclear cooperation with Pyongyang during long years of junta rule which ended last year.

A Myanmar government statement said that the country would sign the International Atomic Energy Agency's "additional protocol", which grants the UN nuclear agency right of access to possible undeclared activities.

President Thein Sein has approved the measure which will now be forwarded to parliament for approval, the statement said.

Allegations of nuclear cooperation between Myanmar and North Korea have been a top concern for Washington.

Thein Sein's government has denied any covert effort to obtain nuclear weapons technology from North Korea, which is locked in a prolonged atomic showdown with the United States.

The White House said ahead of Obama's visit to Yangon on Monday that the former junta-ruled nation was taking steps to reduce ties with Pyongyang.

"We've had a dialogue with the Burmese government about the need to reduce their relationship with North Korea," Ben Rhodes, a US deputy national security advisor said on Air Force One as Obama flew to Asia.

"We've seen them take some positive steps in that direction. And what we'd like to see, again, is an end to the relationship that has existed between Burma and North Korea."

A 2010 United Nations report accused Pyongyang of supplying banned nuclear and ballistic equipment to Myanmar, Iran and Syria.

Myanmar has maintained that it is too poor to acquire nuclear weapons and that it has always abided by UN resolutions.

Obama will become the first sitting US president to travel to the country, after a first stop in Thailand.

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