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  • » 02/26/2013, 00.00


    Thein Sein in Europe, to promote trade and diplomatic relations

    The Burmese President arrives today in Norway, the first stop of a tour that will take in Finland, Austria, Belgium and Italy. After his visit to the United States, a new step towards the modernization of Myanmar. The U.S. Treasury Department removes sanctions on two Burmese businessmen, linked in the past to the military junta.

    Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The President of Myanmar Thein Sein is traveling to Norway, a nation which has a large representation of the Burmese diaspora, the first stage of a historic European tour that will also take in Finland, Austria, Belgium and Italy, and will end March 8. The head of state will meet the highest political officials of the European Union and hold bilateral talks with individual governments, focusing on the political and economic reforms initiated by the Asian country and the inherent issue of human rights. Last year, the former general of the military junta in power until March 2011, travelled to the United States for the first official visit by a leader of the Burmese government in 46 years.

    Experts in international relations point out that the five countries on Thein Sein's schedule are not primary powers in "commercial and political" terms on the Old Continent, but every step taken by Myanmar - isolated for decades - towards the outside needs to be followed "with careful attention". In fact it indicates progressive change and a process of modernization of a democratic nature that is apparently evolving.

    For months, Washington and Brussels - which last year provided 100 million US dollars in aid to Myanmar - have loosened the economic and trade sanctions on Burma, opening the door to trade with a nation indicated by many as a possible "next Asian tiger". The decision was spurred on by the political and social reforms as well as the release of hundreds of political prisoners, as well as the entrance to Parliament of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi held under forced house arrest for years by the dictatorship.

    Meanwhile, two banks owned by businessmen who in the past had woven ties with the military junta, are once again free to do business with U.S. companies and investors. This is laid down by the U.S. Treasury Department, which issued a license in favor of four of the main banks of Myanmar: the Myanma Economic Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwady Bank. Sources in the U.S. economy ministry point out that "it is time that relations between Myanmar and the United States move ahead to the next level."

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    See also

    24/04/2013 MYANMAR - EU
    The EU opens to Myanmar, Naypyidaw frees 56 activists. Catholic Leaders: Not enough
    The Burmese government has ordered the release of more than 50 political prisoners in response to the European Parliament's decision to lift economic and trade sanctions on Myanmar. The ban on arms sales remains. Kachin activist criticizes the move by Brussels, because "there is still no real desire for change."

    21/05/2013 UNITED STATES - MYANMAR
    As Obama welcomes Myanmar president, praises his reforms, human rights activists criticise him
    Thein Sein makes an historic visit to the United States, the first Burmese head of state in 50 years to step on the White House lawn. The US president praised his "genuine efforts", but at the same time calls for the protection of minorities, particularly the Rohingya. His Myanmar counterpart says he is committed a "new national identity" that does not distinguish between ethnic and religious groups.

    Ban Ki-moon at Burmese Parliament: Suu Kyi and Thein Sein "united" for democracy
    The UN Secretary-General makes first historic speech before the Assembly. He praises the courage and the foresight of the leaders of government and opposition, the protagonists of change in the country. And an invitation to continue in the future. The Nobel Laureate dissolves the controversy over the oath, which will be taken soon "for the will of the people."

    18/09/2012 MYANMAR
    Another amnesty in Myanmar: 500 prisoners, dozens of political prisoners free
    Among the beneficiaries of the amnesty, at least 80 prisoners of conscience. The decree comes just days before President Thien Sein's trip to the UN in New York, where he is scheduled to meet with senior American officials. A move to strengthen the dialogue between Washington and Naypyidaw. But some voices critical of Burmese leadership’s "sincerity".

    28/08/2012 MYANMAR
    Thein Sein's cabinet shuffle just a "smokescreen"
    The Burmese president removes members of the old guard to promote more reform-minded people. However, Burma expert says the changes have not altered the underlying power structure. "Unsolved problems" persist as the old elites benefit from new opportunities.

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