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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese navy ships are visiting Myanmar and will conduct communications, search and rescue, and other joint exercises with the Myanmar navy, China's defence ministry said on Saturday.

The ships arrived in Yangon on Thursday for a four-day visit, spokesman Wu Qian said in remarks posted on the ministry's website.

Wu said China was willing to strengthen strategic communication and deepen cooperation with Myanmar, while making joint efforts to safeguard regional peace and stability and promote bilateral ties.

The ship visit started the day China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to a framework for a long-mooted code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea.

It comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi - who serves as Myanmar's foreign minister while also being de facto head of its civilian government - in Beijing earlier this week following China's Belt and Road Forum.

China had a close relationship with Myanmar's former military-run government, and has carefully watched the democratisation process in its strategically located southern neighbour.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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